Extras
Weei » Extras » Gerry Callahan's Avalanna Routh column

Gerry Callahan's Avalanna Routh column

By Gerry Callahan
Boston Herald

So this is what happens at the Jimmy Fund Clinic on some days: An adorable little girl falls asleep after another round of brutal, painful, awful chemotherapy and wakes up to marry Justin Bieber.

What, you thought they’d just give the kid a lollipop and a coloring book?

Not here. Not these people, these angels and heroes who spend every minute of every day fighting off unfathomable suffering with a little hope and a lot of laughs.

“I’ll tell you what they do: They create beautiful moments and beautiful memories,” said Aileen Routh of Merrimac. “That’s what they do.”

Aileen Routh knows all too well what they do at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. As always, she was there by her daughter’s bedside when young Avalanna woke up to her wedding celebration. Avalanna is only 5 years old, but she is not your typical 5-year-old.

She rides horses. She sings at Irish pubs. She is an honorary manager of a chi-chi spa, and she was scheduled to bowl with Josh Beckett and friends just last night. This morning, for the second year in a row, she will paint my nails on live TV. Like I said, she’s not typical. She’s a little nuts.

You remember what Morgan Freeman’s character says at the end of “The Shawshank Redemption?” Get busy living or get busy dying. Avalanna Routh has a brain tumor, but she has been busy living for five years and nine months now. One of Avalanna’s friends had a birthday party in the middle of the storm Sunday. A bunch of the kids stayed home. Not Avalanna. “She was going no matter what,” said her mom.

She has already celebrated her first Holy Communion and her confirmation, so what the heck? Why not matrimony, too?

Lisa, Jen, Martha and the other wondrous wedding planners at the clinic knew Avalanna loved Bieber, even more than most 5-year-old girls love Bieber. And they knew Avalanna needed something, anything, to brighten up a particularly gloomy day. So when she awoke in the infusion room, there he was, her beloved Biebs, or at least his face taped to a life-sized cardboard cutout of Clay Buchholz. There were flowers and bubbles and someone playing “Here Comes the Bride” on the guitar. In place of a wedding gown, there was a

T-shirt that said “The Future Mrs. Bieber,” and there was, of course, the happiest chemo recipient on the third floor.

“It was a beautiful wedding,” said the mother of the bride.

Avalanna has been coming to the Jimmy Fund Clinic and to Children’s Hospital for most of her life, and she has been through it all: chemo, radiation, surgery, a stem cell transplant, good news and bad, ups and downs and everything in between. Every six to eight weeks, she gets an MRI and the family steps onto the emotional roller coaster together. The ride is often so cruel it leaves them wondering what kind of awful sins they committed in a previous life.

“She had some good ones,” said Aileen of MRIs. “And a couple of really bad ones. We have a rule: You cannot be sad around Avalanna. Sometimes a friend or neighbor will get the news and come to the front door in tears. I’ll just say, ‘No, no, no. Not in front of her.’ Believe me, we have massive anxiety. We wonder every day, Will this be it? Will this be our last Christmas together? Will this be her last birthday? It’s very hard, but we still have the rule. In front of her, no sadness allowed.”

Sometimes the rule is easier to follow than others. At the age of 9 months, she was diagnosed with atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors, a rare form of brain tumor most often found in children under 3. Fewer than 30 kids in this country are diagnosed with ATRT each year. Only about 5 percent survive. Aileen and Cameron Routh got the heart-wrenching news about their only child on Aug. 18, 2006, and five years later, Avalanna fights on.

“She’s very smart and she’s starting to ask questions: Why am I so much smaller than other kids? Why can’t I run and jump like they can?” said Aileen. “But she’s very proud of how brave she is, how strong she is. She knows she’s a fighter.”

She’s a fighter and an inspiration, but what Avalanna would really like to be is what every kid at the Jimmy Fund Clinic longs to be: a normal kid. She loves doing nails, so the Spa Ni’joli in Methuen made her an honorary manager, complete with her own business card. She loves riding horses, so she has been a regular at Ironstone Farm in Andover. And don’t be surprised to see her at her favorite Irish pub in Lowell on Friday night. “She loves the music,” said Aileen.

She starts kindergarten tomorrow, and she’ll be nervous and excited like all the other 5-year-olds. Probably won’t be quite as scared, though. She was bowling with Beckett last night and will be appearing live on the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon this morning. She’ll be asking for your support for the Jimmy Fund, the greatest cause in the world.

Times are tough and money is tight, but you can look at this way: It’s a wedding gift. For the lovely Avalanna and the cardboard Biebs. Those two kids deserve it.

Audio On Demand

Dale and Holley: Kevin Ha…

Dale and Holley: Kevin Harlan previews the Super Bowl

The voice of the Super Bowl Kevin Harlan joins the show to preview the Super Bowl and talk about some the Patriots games he has called.

Dale and Holley: Tom E Curran previews Super Bowl

Tom E Curran joins the show on Radio Row to preview the Super Bowl and talk about the fraud Roger Goodell.

Dale and Holley: Michael Irvin previews the Super Bowl

The playmaker Michael Irvin joins the show on Radio Row to talk about how special it is for a team to stay on top of the mountain.

We Love Anthony Daivs - N…

We Love Anthony Daivs - NBA Mid-Season Awards

Ben and Sam discuss ways to improve the NBA All-Star weekend, hand out of hardware, and give their Finals predictions

Jackie MacMullen, ESPN Boston, talks about the Rondo trade 12-19-14

Jackie MacMullen, ESPN Boston, talks with MFB about Rondo being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and how this will have an effect on the Celtics rebuild process

We Hate Dwayne Wade - Marcus Smart injury 11-12-14

How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...

John Farrell with Mut and…

John Farrell with Mut and Bradford, 1-24-15

The Red Sox have taken over Foxwoods and Red Sox Manager John Farrell sat down with Mut and Bradford to talk about the roster and how the 2015 season is looking.

Joe Kelly and Pablo Sandoval make predictions for 2015, 1-24-15

Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly and 3B Pablo Sandoval sat down with Mut and Bradford. Joe Kelly had a few interesting proclamations. First he said that 95% of pitchers use some sort of grip enhancer, and then he said he was going to win the Cy Young. Pablo leaned over and promised 10 HR's, explaining to Joe that the trick is to set the bar low.

Hot Stove Show 01-15-15

Mut and Rob are in on the Hot Stove Show this week and they're taking calls and talking about the Red Sox pitching as we are 5 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.

Pierre McGuire discusses …

Pierre McGuire discusses Rule-Breaking in the NHL 1-22-15

Pierre McGuire talks about ways hockey players skirt the rules in the NHL and the development of Dougie Hamilton.

Pierre McGuire, NBC Sports: "Bruins are an unbelievably team to play against" 1-15-15

Pierre McGuire joins Lou, Christian and Tim to discuss the resurgent Bruins, the emergence of David Pastrnak, and former Boston College stand-out Johnny Gaudreau looking to trademark the name 'Johnny Hockey.'

Jack Edwards with Dale and Holley

We get our state of the B report from NESN's Jack Edwards, right in the midst of a 4 game winning streak and hot return for David Pastrnak.

D&C's Super Bowl Coverage…

D&C's Super Bowl Coverage Montage 1-30-15

Wrapping up the show's week on radio row.

Mad Dog Russo chats with Gerry and Kirk 1-30-15

Show favorite Mad Dog Russo joins the guys to look at Sunday's game and the response he has seen to deflategate.

Bob Kravitz checks in on deflategate 1-30-15

Kravitz calls in to put a wrap on the deflategate this week's coverage. He details some of the twitter attacks he has received from Patriots fans.

Super Bowl Predictions fr…

Super Bowl Predictions from Radio Row 1-30-15

Christian ran around Radio Row getting predictions form anyone he could find, which included being Green-Flied by Warren Sapp

Merloni Investments, Super Bowl XLIX Edition 1-30-15

Local Wiseguy Louie Merloni gives us the lines for Super Bowl XLIX

Adam Schefter, ESPN, with all the news surrounding Super Bowl XLIX 1-30-15

Adam Schefter, ESPN, joins Lou, Christian and Tim to talk about all the news surrounding Super Bowl XLIX

Four at Four: Super Bowl …

Four at Four: Super Bowl Prop Bets

We help you gamblers out there by breaking down some Super Bowl Prop Bets.

Kevin Harlan, the radio voice of the Super Bowl, joins us

Kevin Harlan talks about some of his famous calls from Patriots games and previews the Super Bowl live from Radio Row.

Tom E Curran previews the Super Bowl

Tom E Curran joins the show on Radio Row to preview the Super Bowl and give his prediction for the big game.

Roger Goodell didn't answ…

Roger Goodell didn't answer questions as much as raise more

Mikey, Mut and Lenny are talking about Roger Goodell's state of the game address and question and answer period from earl

The Eve of Super Bowl Eve

Mikey and Mut are gearing up for the Super Bowl on the final show before the Patriots take on the Seahawks.

Steve DeOssie joins Mike Mutnansky

DeOssie joins Mut from Arizona to talk about how big the hype has been for this year's Super Bowl in comparison to other Super Bowl games in the past and how Seattle's defense matches up against New England's offense.

WrestleCast - Royal Rumbl…

WrestleCast - Royal Rumble Preview Part 2

Chris and comedian Mike Mulloy recap the final Raw before the Rumble and preview the Rumble itself.

Unsportsmanlike Podcast - Are sports better in the stadium or on TV?

Would you rather watch important games in the stadium or on TV? Also we discuss our worst experiences at stadiums.

We Love Anthony Daivs - NBA Mid-Season Awards

Ben and Sam discuss ways to improve the NBA All-Star weekend, hand out some hardware, and give their Finals predictions.

Kirk's showdown with the …

Kirk's showdown with the competition 01-29-15

Gerry and Kirk breakdown Kirk's confrontation with the competition.

More from this show

ESPN Sport Science John B…

ESPN Sport Science John Brenkus Talks Deflate Gate 1-28-14

Dale and Michael talk to John Brenkus about the tests he did in relation to deflate gate and the conclusions he came to.

More from this show

Gregg Doyel thinks the Pa…

Gregg Doyel thinks the Patriots are comparable to the 1919 White Sox 1-29-15

Doyel knows the Patriots fixed the AFC title game and they now belong in the same sentence as the 1919 White Sox.

More from this show

Frank Caliendo brings his…

Frank Caliendo brings his impressions to radio row 1-29-15

Funny man Frank Caliendo sits in with Gerry and Kirk from Arizona. He talks about his process and voices some of his greatest hits.

More from this show

Bob Kravitz checks in on …

Bob Kravitz checks in on deflategate 1-30-15

Kravitz calls in to put a wrap on the deflategate this week's coverage. He details some of the twitter attacks he has received from Patriots fans.

More from this show

Weei Writers