This day, the 20th of June 2011, was the day my beautiful niece Ava was booked in for her 15th and final surgery after 2yrs of Leukaemia treatment. It was a day we were both looking forward to & dreading. Looking forward to it because we knew that potentially we would find out that 2yrs of chemotherapy had killed this disease and that she was cancer-free. Dreading it because there was always a chance that the news wouldn’t be good.

My sister picked me up at 7.30am and we headed out to Westmead Children’s… a place we are all too familiar with. Ava was starving having been nil-by-mouth since the night before so it was all about distraction for the next couple of hours. And of course Ava chose to make herself different meals with the plastic food in the playroom.

Not long after we arrived it was time for bloods to check her platelets & white cell count. Then around 10am it was time to go in. She went to sleep with no tears. She’s so brave. The surgery involved a bone marrow biopsy, taken from her hip. And a lumbar puncture, removing cerebral fluid from the spine to check for cancer cells in the brain.

Ava took a long time to wake up but she woke up calmly and immediately wanted the caramel milkshake that Kel had promised her! The doctors said it all went well so it was then a matter of waiting.

I’m SO happy to say that the next morning Kel received a phone call from the hospital to say that the preliminary results were good!! No cancer cells could be seen in either her bone marrow or her spinal fluid. Now we wait for a month to get the ‘final final’ results. But all indications are good. Chemo has finished and from here on life should start to get easier.

The journey is by no means over… but the results we got this week are the best we could have hoped for.

Kel, I want to take this opportunity to tell you that I think you’re amazing. And Ava, I love you more than words and I know you’re going to be ok.


Emily Reynolds - June 22, 2011 - 3:31 am

Absolutely beautiful, and the best results you could have hoped for at this stage xx

Mim - June 22, 2011 - 4:54 am

I can,t stop crying. It brings it all back, the initial shock, the fear,the stress, the heartache and most of all, the sadness of watching little Ava go through all that treatment. These shots tell a story that has taken such a long time to get to this stage. Right now I am (still crying) so filled with pride that my wonderful family stuck together and gave support as best we could. Looking at these pics of Kel’s face makes me realise the love that a mother has for her children. Ali I am in awe of you as you need not have written the story as these shots tell the story all on their own.
xxx Mum

SHIRLEY MEADOWS - June 22, 2011 - 8:31 am

Have tears in my eye’s,God love her, beautiful litle Ava. Photo’s amazing Ali, the fears, hopes and anxiety in her parents Kel & Jay’s faces have been captured beautifully. All good things ahead.Our love to all the family.

Emma - June 22, 2011 - 9:24 am

These photos tell such an intense story Ali. I’m so glad the preliminary results are good and crossing fingers that the next round of results are good. Xx

april sparkes - June 22, 2011 - 9:33 am

a truly amazing result, congratulations.. she is absolutely the most beautiful little girl! the love that story and photos tell is just incredible .. the strength of a family can heal the world!

Laura - June 22, 2011 - 9:52 am

Ali, this is such a beautiful documentation of such a difficult situation – bitter sweet. I think I held my breath the whole time I scrolled through the images and read what you wrote. Thank goodness for a good result. And you’re right – everything will be ok. Ava is so lucky to have a beautiful supportive family, and your sister is lucky to have you. Thank you so much for sharing these my friend. Lots of love to you x

Georgia Kennedy - June 22, 2011 - 9:53 am

Speechless. What a story of photo’s. Ava is so strong and you are ALL so brave! Great results. Xxxx

Kelly Dryden - June 22, 2011 - 11:04 am

Ali you have truly captured something so special…the photo’s have bought me to tears. What a dear, dear little girl Ava is and what a loving family you have. Big hugs to all xx

Felicity Peterson - June 22, 2011 - 11:36 am

Such an incredible journey and I have to say while Ava is unbelievably brave, I think Kel is also incredibly courageous. To watch your daughter go through this….well I can’t possibly imagine.

Kel, you are magnificent and brave and strong. No wonder Ava has such strength. She gets it from her mum.


Jodie - June 22, 2011 - 12:02 pm

The photo of Kel kissing Ava as she has just gone under says everything. I can see all her hopes and prayers in that kiss. I hope they all come true xx

Daniel M - June 22, 2011 - 12:04 pm

Great shots (as usual) and photo log, it really captures all the different emotions, from all aspects

Peta - June 22, 2011 - 12:40 pm

Oh beautiful brave Ava. I truly wish you get the final, final all clear she so deserves. Such an amazing little girl x

Bronwyn - June 22, 2011 - 9:56 pm

What a emtional roll coaster everyone of the family has ridden,but through it all, you have remaind strong and postive and i know that the outcome is going to be a great one. I have shed tears this morning, reading the blog of Ava and her family’s battle. Thinking of you all and wish you all the best for the future,Luv Broniexxo

Niki Grace - June 23, 2011 - 12:08 am

My darling Ali, thank you for sharing these beautiful photos. I have tears in my eyes being able to see what you have all gone through. Ava is so incredibly brave and the results are everything she and the family deserves. Kel has been an absolute pillar of strength through it all and I know so much of that strength comes from having such a fabulous and strong family to support her and Ava. I wish I hadnt been so far away during this really difficult time for you all but just know that my thoughts have been and still are with you all. I love you my darling dearest friend, your talent to capture the moment in film is truly breathtaking…Niki x

Lisse - June 23, 2011 - 1:37 am

I can’t remember the last time I cried like. This must have been one of your hardest and most poignant sessions to date Alison. You captured every emotion of fear, loathing, strenght, happiness and above all extreme love. What a brave family all of you are and especially gorgeous Ava. What a little trouper! You will be shooting her 18th, 21st birthdays before you know it. Love to all the family. xxxx The Cromptons

MOO - June 23, 2011 - 5:40 am

Oh Al, words just can’t describe the emotion in these photos. I looked at them last night and cried, I looked at them again today – and cried again! God bless little Ava, what an incredibly amazing little angel. She will grow up and have an incredible journey to look back on. She has been through more in her short years so far than most do in a lifetime. Kel, you are one of THE most amazing people I know, I have such admiration and respect for you. You are a credit to all your family. Al, you know I think the world of you. Your work is just divine. Health and happiness, Marn xoxo

Kat - June 24, 2011 - 3:19 am

Ali, that is amazing!.. love to all of you…. Lots of tears right now! xxxooo

deb robertson - June 24, 2011 - 4:37 am

Hi Ali,Being someone who is still in the process a little further along than Kell and Ava, I can’t believe how you have captured this amazingly. I only wish Ben had let me take the photos I wanted but it wasn’t to be. When something like this happens you try and look for the good in it, wherever you can. For me, it’s some of the people I have met, I always knew I was a strong person, because I’ve had to be, but this is something you don’t ever really think you’ll have to endure. I have to say, meeting these two girls have been one of the positive things to come out of this horrible experience:}

Maria - June 24, 2011 - 9:21 am

Dearest Kellie and wonderful family,these pictures tell more than the a thousand words ! truly an artist. Congratulations on your journey SO FAR!!!!!! it has been amazing and we are happy to be part and privy to your world. May God forever hold your family in his palm. You are blessed to have such a wonderful, beautiful daughter and family. Lots of love Maria, EMILIA and tony xxxx

Kelly Durie - June 24, 2011 - 10:38 am

I am crying right now….I am so overwhelmed with everything. I can’t even put words together, so I am not going to try too hard right now, but I have loads of emotions running through me…and I have such appreciation for my sister being able to actually stand there and take pictures of her neice undergoing her final surgery, who she so dearly loves, that must have been so hard. She did tell me she was shaking when they were putting her under, and I totally understand how hard that would have been for you Ali. You did a great job and I love you. Deb and Maria…also reading your words just now…just cracked me. You both know so well…after having gone through exactly what we have..who ever thought our babies would get cancer…but they did, and they survived…and we have shared so much…and I love you both xx

may smith - June 26, 2011 - 1:54 am

so glad to hear all this news there was a lot of people praying for her more than you know and the big fellow up there hasnt let you down what a wonderful
little girl and so brave all our love may brian and family

Uncle Lee - June 26, 2011 - 10:35 pm

Kelly I am so delighted to hear of Ava’s result and I’m quite sure that the worst is now behind you all. You and your family have been amazing in how you have dealt with Ava’s illness.Until people , particularly parents are placed in this terrible predicament they have no idea of just how draining and emotional times like these are. Please give Ava a big kiss from Uncle Lee and once again great news

Megan - July 21, 2011 - 1:57 am

Wow, what can one say after viewing such amazing pics of what has been a long, frustrating, painful, tearful, overwhelming journey for one amazingly brave little girl (and family). Congratulations Ava, you did it! You have been through more in your 3 years than most people go through in more than 10 times that. It makes us realise how precious life is and how precious our gorgeous children are. I have lost count of how many times I’ve viewed these photos and I think more tears fall each time. Of course these are now tears of happiness of such an amazing journey and achievement one little angel went through. Ali and Kel, thank you for sharing Ava’s story. -xx-

Fi Mims - October 3, 2011 - 11:31 am

What a heartwrenching post, Ali. Beautifully captured in images by you. Hoping with all my heart the good news continues for Ava. xo

Craig blissett - February 15, 2012 - 3:23 am

Building kels house at the time i was struck down by this sad news,having a girl at similar age at the time ava was diagnosed was so sad and hard to understand.ava is such a sweetheart and this should not have happened to her.close contact with kel and jay planing there house and dealing with ava almost made me feel like part of the family.the strength they had and showed was trully remarkable,i dont know how they did it.i still wear the bracelets to support the cure our kids foundation and will always have memories of ava forever.keep fighting little one and god bless you.

Chloe Barrett - April 23, 2012 - 4:46 pm

I truely hope the news are the best you could hope for.Ava is a very brave little girl and she’s gorgoes, She should keep calm and drink chocolate milkshakes.STAY STRONG FOREVER LITTLE AVA………………<3 Xx

Nicole - December 5, 2012 - 2:26 am

Beautiful images. The story told through them is so powerful.

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