MAFS star, Mel Walsh, talks about her grand-daughter Ava's Leukaemia diagnosis

Ava is my first grandchild and I was lucky enough to be there when she was born. Chloe had her husband and myself in the delivery suite and it is one of the most special moments I will treasure forever, being there while this little ray of sunshine came into the world. I have always felt a very close connection with her since then.

Ava has always been incredibly special, and brought so much joy and love to all of our lives. She and I used to spend hours dancing around the lounge room together when she was little, and she always loved wearing my high heels whenever she came over for a visit or sleepover. I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with her from the time she was born and took her to dancing classes over the years. After that we would go and get a babycino and banana bread and it was such a special time together. We loved playing the music loud while we drove along and sang and danced to her favourite songs.

Ava loves dancing, fairies, and unicorns, and for a while she absolutely loved scary movies with lots of blood. She has a huge collection of Lol Dolls which she is very particular about, and has all the accessories in separate containers as she likes to be organised. Ava loves drawing and is now being home schooled mostly and learning to write and recognise letters and sounds. She goes to school when she is up to it.

She has a charisma about her and leaves a warm glow with anyone she comes in contact with. She loved dressing up as a flower girl for the Married at First Sight wedding, loves wearing dresses, but not jeans. She is a real little lady.

Ava is a wonderful big sister to Summer, who is two and a half. Summer absolutely adores her, and struggled when Ava had to spend so much time in the hospital. Their bond is heart-warming, and it is very important to Ava that she spends time with her little sister. She also annoys her at times, but I think Ava handles it really well.

For a few months before Ava was diagnosed, she seemed to be losing her spark a bit. It’s one of those things you only realise when you look back. At the time, we noticed it but thought she might just be tired from creche and didn’t really worry too much. She was still full of life but got tired very easily and seemed to be becoming a bit more fragile and seemed paler than she used to. 

In the weeks leading up to her diagnosis, Ava was becoming more and more unwell. She tired very easily and actually looked a little jaundice. Chloe and her husband took her to the doctor regularly and then twice to Frankston Hospital as they were beside themselves with worry. Each time the doctors said there was nothing to worry about and sent them home. 

Following their parental instincts, Chloe and Zane took Ava the next day to the Royal Children’s Hospital. They just knew something was wrong but never expected the diagnosis they received. 

Ava was diagnosed with ALL that night, and immediately started chemotherapy which was put into her spine when they did a spinal tap. She was given blood transfusions and then chemotherapy in the drip, as well as steroids. She spent several weeks at the Royal Children’s Hospital as she had a bad reaction to the steroids which the doctors said can happen. She was allowed to go home from hospital and continue to come up to the RCH twice a week for chemotherapy and a check-up. 

This has been going on for nine months and now Ava has gone into the maintenance period of her chemotherapy, which means only going to the hospital for chemo once a month, taking chemo tablets and steroids at home. Even though she suffers the side effects of the chemo (hair loss, nausea, rashes sometimes) she still smiles and plays and is our bright, happy girl much of the time.

Last year I organsied the Light the Night in Hastings to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. My daughter and her husband didn’t want a Go fund Me page or anything like that as they are very independent, and I just wanted to do something to help. 

After being at the RCH and seeing all the children and families going through this disease, I realised there is so much that needs to be done. You don’t know what it is like until you have a loved one going through it, and there are so many families that are facing tough times like ours. 

You feel completely helpless when something like leukaemia strikes your grandchild and being involved with the foundation has become my way of helping to make sense of it (if that’s possible). 

When I saw Dry July advertised, I thought that could be another way to help raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. It’s crazy because I have actually thought its not going to be easy as I love my booze, but when I look at what Ava is going through, that seems like a stupid thing to say. Ava is handling this with such strength and style. She is my absolute hero and the least I can do is give up drinks for a month to help her and all the other people going through this horrible disease.

Leukaemia Foundation

$2,866.60 raised

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