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Maurice and Kandice Barron watching on in the House of Representatives
State of the Union

Waterford man thanks Joe Biden for strengthening family's 'resolve' after White House greeting

Maurice Barron’s daughter Ava was left with a tiny chance of survival from cancer, but the disease is now in remission.

A WATERFORD MAN has thanked United States president Joe Biden for welcoming his family as guests at the White House for a major address to the nation this week.

Maurice Barron, his wife Kandice and their daughter Ava were at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue sharing the story of how cancer research funded by the Biden administration transformed their lives.

Ava had been diagnosed with cancer to her kidneys with a minute chance of survival but the disease is now in remission.

Maurice, who is originally from Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford and who now lives in New York, thanked the White House in a tweet after attending the address, which is where American presidents speak on the affairs and challenges of the nation.

He told American news station CBS that he found a book by Biden on his family’s struggles as his son Beau died from cancer “strengthened my resolve” when he and Kandice were at their lowest points. 

“He said the piece which really helped me [was that] to give up would be unforgivable and that helped me kind of strengthen my resolve when we were really in our bad days,” he said.

“The First Lady had this wonderful phrase which was you had to steal moments of joy wherever you are.” 

He added that while Ava wasn’t totally aware of the significance of the occasion, she knows the White House as “Joe’s house” and that the “First Lady of the United States is Dr Jill”.

“To go from sending a letter to thanking someone you never met for having Ava with us tonight at the White House and to be part of the state of the union – only in America. 

During his address, Biden told the House of Representatives that the couple were in the crowd watching on, along with other families who had faced struggles in recent months.

He said Maurice had sent him a letter telling him he had read his book about coping with the illness and death of his son Beau. 

“Joining us are Maurice and Kandice, an Irishman and a daughter of immigrants from Panama.

“They met and fell in love in New York City and got married in the same chapel as Jill and I got married in New York City. Kindred spirits.”

Biden said  Ava was just a year old when she was diagnosed and “after 26 blood transfusions, 11 rounds of radiation, eight rounds of chemo, one kidney removed”, she was still only given a “five percent survival rate”.

“Maurice] wrote how in the darkest moments he thought, ‘If she goes, I can’t stay.’ Many of you have been through that as well. Jill and I understand that, like so many of you.

“And he read Jill’s book describing our family’s cancer journey and how we tried to steal moments of joy where we could with Beau.

For them, that glimmer of joy was the half-smile of their baby girl. It meant everything to them. They never gave up hope.

“Little Ava never gave up hope. She turns 4 next month.”

To applause, Biden told of how the couple had “just found out Ava is beating the odds is on her way to being cured of cancer, and she’s watching from the White House tonight, if she’s not asleep already”.

He added that his administration would continue to fund research to “end cancer” and “cure some cancers once and for all”.

“For the lives we can save — for the lives we can save and the lives we’ve lost, let this be a truly American moment that rallies the country and the world together and proves that we can still do big thing,” he said.

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