Ava Tunheim Memorial

Update, 2-14-19.

As most of you know, lost her battle with Leukemia on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Texas.  A Celebration of Life will be held at 3pm, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019 at the Groton (South Dakota) High School gymnasium.  Please wear orange in honor of Ava!

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred and can be made here or sent to:
Nathan Tunheim
PO Box 396
Lindsay, TX 76250

We will always love you Ava!  Please keep her family and friends close to your hearts.  

Ava's story, as told by her father who was by her side throughout the whole thing.

Ava started having headaches around Christmas, it was right after she got done with basketball.   Allison took her to her regular doctor on January 3.  The doctor stated it was probably just migraines and it will subside.  January 11, we went to a ice fishing tournament in Mobridge.  She had been saying when she stood up, she would feel dizzy but it went away in a minute or so; but sometimes I would look at her and she would look like she was in space.  So I asked if she was ok and she would say "yes".   The next day (the 12th) she felt pretty good and we caught a lot of fish but she still had the occasional headache.  The day of the tournament she felt ok in the morning but the afternoon her stomach started hurting.  I told her to tell me if we needed to go to the ER, so about midnight we went.  They convinced me that it was puberty and the gave her Prontonix so she could sleep better, which makes no sense to me.  When we got home Sunday, she felt pretty bad and I told Allison that something is going on.  She agreed, so she stayed home from work that Monday, Jan 15.  Ava wanted to wait for Allison to take her to the doctor because she thought it was a "girl thing".  The doctor was going to send her home once again, but my wife said "I would like a blood test done before we leave".  Once they came back, she had tested positive for mono and her white blood count was 40,000 (regular is 4-10,000).  They had sent a sample to Sioux Falls they were pretty sure it was leukemia.  They wanted to take her by ambulance and I said "what does it matter if she has leukemia, it isn't going to hurt her to ride with me", plus I didn't want to believe it, I was telling myself it was mono, which was the other possibility.  They agreed to let her ride with us there.   Once we got there they knew it was leukemia but they had to figure out what we were dealing with.  By the time we got her in her bed and situated she couldn't move her neck - all of the cancer cells were pushing up from her shoulders to her neck, which we didn't know that at that time.  That was January 16.  January 17 they did a spinal tap, gave her chemo in her spine and confirmed it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  Of course, we all fell apart.  
So they gave her IV chemo that day and we had to wait to see what cancer markers she had been showing, that way they could treat for exactly what she had.  On the 23rd, they came and said we don't have great news, the markers they had found were the Philadelphia chromosome PH+.  We stayed in the hospital for two weeks, everything was doing what it was supposed to in the beginning.  Her body was producing 90% cancer cells and they got it down to 0 before we left.   Right now Ava has had her second outpatient chemo treatment and she had to get a blood transfusion to boost her hemoglobin and platelets.  Next Thursday (March 15), they will do a spinal tap to give her chemo in her spine again, but once they find out how the chemo has been working (which they find out through the spinal tap), that will determine the next month of treatments.
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Organizer and beneficiary

Melissa Makes Signs 
Britton, SD
Nathan Tunheim 
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