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'The only thing I know:' Florida girl embraces growing up with mom's cancer diagnoses

Posted at 12:50 PM, Nov 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-02 12:54:03-04

LUTZ, Fla. — Having a family member with cancer can be a challenge, but for this 12-year-old it's the only thing she's ever known.

Ava Terino is your typical 7th grader. She plays piano and sports, and loves to bake cookies. She says growing up with a mother battling cancer is her normal.

“It’s the only thing I know, I’m just used to it,” said Ava.

Carol Henderson has been diagnosed with cancer for the third time in the last 10 years.

“All said I have had about 29 surgeries related to breast cancer, and I’ve had 90 radiations and about 24 chemo-therapies,” said Henderson.

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Ever since she could remember, Ava has seen her mom in and out of treatment, wearing wigs and taking countless medications.

“My friends, they come over and stuff, and they start asking me questions because they see my mom. I try to give them all the correct answers and stuff and help them know what they need to know,” said Ava.

Ava says she’s proud to be able to help her friends understand a disease that affects so many families.

“This girl that I was sitting with during lunch, she is like, ‘I would rather get cancer than eat a spoonful of ketchup,’ and I’m like, ‘you really wouldn’t’ but people just don’t understand the amount of harm and pain that comes with it,” said Ava.

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Ava says her mother’s cancer is not something her family dwells on, it’s just there and that’s okay — it’s nothing to be afraid of.

“You just have to keep on trusting that something good will come out at the end,” said Ava.