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Dearest Amanda,

There must be moments when you feel so alone. On your own in your deepest pit of grief and anguish. A solitary cell of pain, your very insides ripped open – no one loved Ava in the way that you did, no one’s loss is the same as yours.

You are alone, but in a parallel place, you are also not alone

Some of us have been exactly where you are.

They stand with you

In their own ways, they live the unthinkable loss of their own child.

But, the loss of a child, in our world, is in fact far from unthinkable

Every single parent who has nursed their child through cancer has, at some point, imagined a future when their child dies. So, when one of our number does in fact lose their child, it is all of us who fall to our knees, together, in a silent and unanimous act of unity.

For you, for Ava, and in some ways, selfishly, for ourselves, we all fall to our knees

There is not an oncology parent who hasn’t heard a song on the radio and thought ‘yes, that would be a beautiful song for my child’s funeral’. No parent who has observed the unique quirks and sensibilities of their child and not sometimes thought how to weave that into a eulogy.

There for the Grace of God, go I.

There is nothing but shit dumb luck, the unkindest of life’s cards dealt that separates my story, of imagining Lara’s ending, to Amanda’s cruellest ending of kissing Ava for the very last time. Of somehow tucking her in and letting them take her away.

Amanda, you have done our community an enormous service. You have lived the life of an oncology parent, and of a parent helping her child die with a rare and honest vulnerability.

Openly telling your stories and sharing deeply personal moments, letting us all in, to see the brutal beauty of the love and the white-hot pain of a child’s dying.

In doing so, you have helped teach people about the road some of us walk more silently.

You have opened conversations for people to learn about the relentless brutality of childhood cancer treatment and the tenderest moments of loving a child whose time earthside, you know, will be short.

You, Ava and your whole family have raised an enormous amount of awareness, support and funds for childhood cancer and the services our communities rely on.

For that, we are all deeply grateful

So, while, there is nothing we can do, no words we can say to make any of this better, please know this.

There is an ocean of love for Ava, sweeping across our community.

We are meeting in coffee shops, and online and in the hospital family rooms and treatment units, and we are remembering Ava.

We will always speak her name; she will never be forgotten by us.

You, and your family are in our thoughts and our hearts.

We still love you when you’re sad. Take from us what you need when you need it. We can be your safe space.

From the bottom of our hearts, with all of our love, we stand beside you,

Love Tanya, and your Oncology Family ❤️




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