Young Ava shows amazing generosity in aid of two worthy cancer charities
It's over six years since 10-year-old Ava Diggin was diagnosed with Leukaemia, and this week her mother, Emer, spoke with deep pride as her daughter took a remarkable step in helping those going through what she went through at such a young age.
The Killorglin girl was diagnosed with the dreaded illness at the age of just four and immediately underwent treatment, which lasted around two and a half years.
Ava, who went through chemotherapy, lost her hair at that time but has since recovered to full health.
And her experience has clearly inspired her, as she recently made off Martha's hair salon for a first haircut in over a year - with some very good causes in mind, mum Emer explained.
"As a family, we've raised funds in the past for St John's Ward in Crumlin, Aoibheann's Pink Tie, and the Cashel Ward in Tralee, charities that would all be linked in some way to what Ava went through," Ms Diggin-Looney explained to The Kerryman.
"She wanted to do something herself - and this haircut gave her the chance to do that."
At Martha's salon, Ava was shorn of a 16-inch ponytail, which has been donated to 'The Rapunzel Project', an initiative which helps cancer patients deal with the traumatic experience of hair loss, so often a part of the treatment process and one which Ava herself went through at a very young age. This hair will now help in providing wigs to those going through this very experience.
But Ava also supported 'The Gavin Glynn Foundation', which helps families with children fighting cancer as they go overseas for treatment.
There was also something very fitting about the choice of venue for this wonderful act of giving, as Martha Fleming is a good friend of the family and made good on a promise to put a pink streak in Ava's hair over five years ago once the little girl's hair had grown back sufficiently.
The public has already shown its generosity in backing Ava's initiative, but Emer explained there are still opportunities to donate.
"I work at Killorglin post office, where my mother, Nora O'Sullivan-Looney, is postmistress, and we have a sponsorship card there," she said. "There's also a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/avas-hair-donation."