Meet Ava Ebling
In the future, I want to help anyone who receives a cancer diagnosis. I didn't let cancer stop me.
I lived with acute lymphoblastic leukemia for 1,460 days. I lived with it as a young student going through elementary school, as a sister, as the oldest daughter, as a leader, and as a friend. I went through years of treatment and became part of a community of heroes who get up every day, face huge obstacles, and choose to fight.
One scary moment that I remember is gasping for air as my lungs began to close in the middle of the night. It happened quickly, and I couldn’t notify anyone so I improvised by throwing any object I could find to get the nurse’s attention. I share this because cancer does not define me. Rather it helped me discover who I am. Every form of treatment was a symbol of my growth.
Early in my treatments, I had a circular shaped port placed inside me to regulate chemotherapy. At first, the holes in my port represented the hard times I had gone through in the hospital. Now, I realize that each little mark is a reminder of how I’ve grown. From a young age, I have seen the world differently than my peers due to the challenges I faced. I learned how to achieve anything I put my mind to. I became a leader and see the good in life. As a result of my hardships, I learned that the things that make us different make us beautiful.
I am currently a counselor at a camp called Dream Oaks where I work to develop the comprehensive skills of children who have special needs and chronic illnesses. Working here has taught me that children should be recognized by their strengths, not by their disabilities. Teaching these children what they are capable of, rather than what they are limited to, it reminded me of what the doctors did for me.
One of my campers, Annaliese, had Down Syndrome and she had never been away from home before. During the week, I helped Annaliese open her eyes up to a new world, while also reassuring her that she is more capable then she realizes. I got her out of her wheelchair to ride a horse for the first time, into the swimming pool to play with new friends and showed her the fun of flying on a playground swing. Annaliese went from being afraid to leave home to loving camp and not wanting to leave. It warmed my heart knowing that she challenged herself and overcame her fears.
There are two things I know for sure. One: survivors don’t quit, and we fight for the things we are passionate about. Two: modem medicine saved my life and saves millions every day. I’m here because of modem medicine and the compassion and hard work of my team of doctors as well as the support from my parents. As I prepare for college and my future career, I am ready to take the lessons I have learned through my fight with cancer and become a physician. I hope to study the biological sciences to achieve my dream of becoming a surgical oncologist. Going from a patient to a doctor will be my greatest accomplishment. In the future, I want to help anyone who receives a cancer diagnosis. I didn’t let cancer stop me. I want to use my education and experience to reassure and help cancer patients know that cancer won’t stop them either.