12-year-old girl fights cancer in same Metro Detroit hospital her mom works in

‘One of my best friends took care of her’

This mother is a nurse who is helping her daughter as she fights cancer.

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – A Metro Detroit mother of two is a nurse at the same hospital that is treating her youngest daughter for cancer.

Karen Jabczenski takes care of pediatric cancer patients daily at Beaumont Royal Oak.

In 2019 her youngest daughter Ava, who at the time was nine years old, was having severe migraines. Doctors eventually found and removed a cancerous tumor. The last three years have been busy for Ava and the Jabczenski family.

“She’s had three craniotomies. She’s had three reoccurrences, and she’s had inpatient chemotherapy. She’s had radiation twice,” Jabczenski said.

The list goes on. Ava, now 12-years-old is in good spirits thanks to her mother’s colleagues.

Jabczenski reflected on when her daughter was first diagnosed.

“One of my best friends took care of her,” Jabczenski said. “She was midnight nursery over every night and I actually felt like I could sleep at night, you know, like not have to be hyper-vigilant.”

Then there are friends like Anne Binder, a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse.

“We all felt an extra sense of compassion and concern. We were just very stunned when she (Ava) was diagnosed,” Binder said.

She said as a team, they show their support as much as they can, like on Wednesday when they all wore Team Ava shirts and sweatshirts.

“Ava and all of our children are so special, and I just try to treat them as compassionately as I would want my own child treated,” said Binder.

Beaumont Royal Oak’s pediatrics oncology team’s care doesn’t just end with Ava.

“We’ve done some things to kind of help Karen so that she kind of stays in that parent role,” Binder said.

This Mother’s Day, Jabczenski is not only reflecting on her kids and her own mother but also on the colleagues who have helped her separate work and being a mom. She said she couldn’t have done it without those coworkers, extended family, and her faith.

“It hasn’t been easy, especially when I know what I know, but that’s what I’ve done, and that’s what their support is helped me to do is be a mom to my child with cancer,” said Jabczenski.

She said the journey has helped her better support her patients and their families.

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About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital Producer and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.