Photo Credit: @ava_blaser on Instagram
I’ve always admired Ellen DeGeneres for being such an advocate of the dance world. Over the years, she’s used her TV show as a platform to showcase many dancers with amazing stories. In past blogs, I’ve written about some of these dancers like Ivan Koumaev and Artyon Celestine, and today I want to add Ava Blaser to this list. Recently, DeGeneres saw Blaser and her older sister, Emma, dancing on a YouTube video and tweeted them an invitation to come on her show to tell Ava’s cancer survival story. Ava was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age, but through her recovery, she and her sister used their dance bond as an outlet for emotional release and distraction.
In 2011, at just 3-years-old, Ava Blaser got the devastating diagnosis of stage 5 Bilateral Wilms (a type of kidney cancer) in both kidneys. To kill the cancer, she underwent nine rounds of radiation, 29 rounds of chemotherapy, and a surgery that removed her left kidney and part of her right kidney. Thankfully, Ava’s perseverance paid off and this treatment plan left her cancer-free.
Photo Credit: blog.luriechildrens.org_ava_blaser
Miraculously, Ava stayed in remission for 6 years, but unfortunately, her yearly scan in January 2018 showed a spot on her partial kidney. Ava immediately got back to work on her recovery undergoing eight months of chemotherapy and another surgery to get rid of the cancer. Throughout this process, doctors told Ava,11, that she wouldn’t be able to dance while undergoing treatments, but she was determined to prove them wrong. “Dancing made me really happy, and it helps me stay humble and positive through this. It helped distract me while all of this was going on, and it’s a way for me to express my emotions without any words. I can just dance,” Ava told DeGeneres. Dancing truly brought Ava a healthy mind and spirit, so she could focus energy on her body’s recovery.
Ava continued to dance during her recovery with her sister by her side every step of the way. She and Emma continuously choreographed and danced routines, which gave Ava something else to focus on besides her cancer. “We’re best friends. I go down for all her scans and treatments. We have a relationship that’s different than other siblings I think,” Emma told DeGeneres.
After the sisters were interviewed by DeGeneres, they told Ava’s story of resilience through a beautiful performance to Coldplay’s “Fix You.” Despite the trauma Ava has already experienced in her young life, this story does have a happy ending. On September 11, 2018, she received another clear scan.
To end their appearance, Twitch (another dancer that DeGeneres promotes) gave the Blaser sisters, who are big So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) fans, VIP tickets to the SYTYCD tour and Shutterfly presented the girls with two $20,000 checks to help pay for college tuition. Even though the Blaser family was subjected to this traumatic experience, the bond of Ava and Emma through life and dance is the silver lining that will stick with the family for the rest of their lives.