Ava C.

Img 5561#HeroesofRVA AVAMy parents tried really hard to keep things as normal for us as possible until we knew what was going on with Lauren. We ended up finding out she had cancer the day after my brother’s birthday. I remember that there were streamers and that we had birthday cake. I think he would tell you that he didn’t have a birthday that year.

#HeroesofRVA AVAWe were staying with our friends while my parents were in the hospital with Lauren. She went in for a CT scan on a Friday. I think my friend’s mom must have known something. She had hinted that it might be a few days before Lauren would get to come home, and I said, “Oh, I’m sure she’ll probably just be there overnight.” And then when she didn’t come home the next day, I said, “Well, I bet they’re just keeping her for the weekend until she gets over her virus.” After we found out that she had a brain tumor, I asked my mom if that’s what it means when people say that someone is “in denial.” 

#HeroesofRVA AVA

We moved into this house right after she got sick. It was kind of hard because we didn’t really know anyone in this neighborhood and we couldn’t have anyone over since her immune system was so weak. We’d come home from school and have to change out of our clothes, take a shower, and put on new clothes. We still wash our hands all the time. But in a way, it feels normal now. I know it’s not, but it’s hard to remember what it was like before she got sick.

#HeroesofRVA Ava

When Lauren was first diagnosed, a lot of kids at my school would come up to me and ask about her. One time, I started talking about one of her scans and I guess I went on for a while. After a minute or two, I realized they were just staring at me with weird expressions. So I said, “Nevermind. Let’s talk about something happier.” I know my really close friends want to know all of the details. Now that Lauren has relapsed, though, people are scared to even ask about her. I think they want me to say that everything is okay.

(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor’s Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children.)