5-year-old Alberta girl with brain cancer working her way through bucket list

WATCH ABOVE: At just five years old, Ava Hadfield has had to make her bucket list. As Su-Ling Goh reports, her family is on a mission to make as many of them as possible come true.

EDMONTON — She’s just five years old and has already gone through 46 weeks of chemotherapy, 31 rounds of radiation and three surgeries.

Three years ago, Ava Hadfield was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“At the beginning we thought we had a lot of time,” said her dad Jason. After Ava’s first surgery, doctors said it could be six years before the tumour started growing again, but after just nine months, it returned.

Then came the exhaustive weeks and rounds of chemo and radiation.

“After radiation we found out it doubled in size and she had her second and third brain surgeries,” explained Jason, adding those treatments are the three traditional methods doctors tend to use.

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“There’s not a whole lot left they can do.”

However, the Hadfield family vows to remain positive and will look at a trial if the tumour grows back again. Meanwhile, Ava’s parents are doing all they can to balance the bad with some good.

“We felt now’s the time to do a ‘Dreams and Wish List,’ said Jason.

“The doctors say there may not be much time left with Ava, but we’re not going to give up, we’re not going to give up hope.”

The list is similar to a bucket list; containing things she wants to do in her life.

“We felt it was important to make a list. We also feel it’s important to check off most of those items on the list, if not all of them.”

So far, Ava’s been able to complete several items, including a trip to San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND, getting a new puppy, and competing in a pageant.

“She did awesome,” said Jason. “She stepped out of that cocoon and just surprised all of us.”

“It was wonderful to see her up there,” added Ava’s mom Mandy. “I don’t think a smile left her face.”

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READ MORE: Albertans rally around young cancer survivor’s selfless wish 

The next big check mark on her list? Getting to meet her idol: pop-country music superstar Taylor Swift.

“We got tickets to her concert, but for Ava, that’s just not good enough,” said Jason with a smile. “She’d really love to meet Taylor Swift. It’s just a big dream of hers.”

The Sherwood Park community, as well as several online support groups, have been rallying to make this dream a reality for Ava.

Recently, the family received word from Swift’s camp that the meeting will happen when the singer’s in Edmonton in August.

“She’s just over the moon,” said Mandy. “It’s one thing to be able to go to her concert, but to actually meet her in person, she’s so excited.”

READ MORE: #Taylor4Ashley: Family hopes social media can grant Taylor Swift dream  

The Hadfields say they are blown away by the outpouring of support from loved ones, neighbours, even strangers.

“We talk daily about how overwhelmed we are with support and the people that love her and care about her,” said Mandy, “and the impact she’s made on people’s lives – who don’t even know her.”

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They say they’ll continue to fight as a family.

“She’s been quite a trooper through the whole thing,” said Jason of his little girl. He said Ava doesn’t complain about all her hospital visits or the all-too-frequent needle “pokes.”

“To her, I think it’s just how life is,” added Mandy. “She doesn’t skip a beat and she’s constantly asking us ‘what’s my next treatment going to be?'”

“It’s kind of hard to take – that to her, this is normal,” she said. “It’s not the way life’s supposed to be for a five-year-old.”

“She just continues to inspire us everyday and keep our spirits up because she’s so strong. She’s a fighter.”

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