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

Mike Reiss with Dale, Hol…

Mike Reiss with Dale, Holley and Thornton

Dale, Michael and Jerry dig into the details of this draft for the Patriots with ESPN's Mike Reiss.

NFL SUNDAY with Mike Giardi and Chris Price -- Roger Goodell is maddening! -- 5-1-16

Giardi and Price discuss the Tom Brady appeal getting overturned and Roger Goodell's victory tour. The guys can't believe the victory lap and some of his behavior. The more you listen to him, the more frustrating his behavior becomes.

NFL SUNDAY with Mike Giardi and Chris Price -- A look at the AFC East post NFL Draft -- 5-1-16

Giardi and Price break down how the teams in the AFC East altered their futures after the NFL Draft weekend.

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics PG…

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics PG joins OMF, 6-30-16

Isaiah Thomas talks to Glenn and Lou about why he loves Boston, the NBA Money Bump, oh, and some Durant guy

Danny Ainge, Celtics General Manager and President of Basketball joins OMF, 6-24-16

Danny Ainge joins Glenn and Christian to explain the Celtics draft process; and he also discusses the trade rumors that permeated the night.

NBA Draft Show with Mut and Minihane Pt. 3

Mut is flying solo the last hour, but he's giving reaction and analysis as the Celtics draft a power forward out of France by the name of Guerschon Yabusele and getting some early grades for the Celtics

Manager John Farrell with…

Manager John Farrell with Dale, Holley and Thornton

We check in with the manager of the Boston Red Sox, John Farrell joins us live from Tampa for our weekly update on all things Sox.

Red Sox Review with Mut, 6-27-16

Eduardo Rodriguez and the Sox stumbled in their 13-7 loss to the Rays. Mut recaps the game and takes your calls on all things Boston baseball.

Red Sox Review with Christian Arcand, 6-26-16

Christian recaps the Red Sox 6-2 loss to the Rangers.

SUNDAY SKATE with DJ Bean…

SUNDAY SKATE with DJ Bean and Pete Blackburn -- A look toward the future for the Bruins -- 4-17-16

DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.

SUNDAY SKATE with WEEI's DJ Bean and Uproxx's Pete Blackburn -- They got what they wanted...Claude Julien is staying in Boston -- 4-17-16

DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.

Butch Stearns with DJ Bean and Pete Blackburn -- The season is officially over for the Bruins; where do we go from here? -- 4-10-16

Butch is joined by two-thirds of the Sunday Skate show in DJ and Pete. The guys discuss the problems with Bruins including leadership and grit, who should stay and who should go and if Claude is to blame.

Headlines, Headlines, Hea…

Headlines, Headlines, Headlines - Trump's luncheon protesters, Howie Carr's war chant 6-30-16

Kirk Minihane's Thursday Headlines welcome interns Tim and Conor to dicuss their trip to the Trump luncheon in downtown Boston.

D&C don't want to talk DeflateGate but Chris Simms on WFAN makes them 6-30-16

A guest appearance by Chris Simms on WFAN with Boomer Esiason forces John, Gerry and Kirk back down the DeflateGate wormhole.

D&C - Gerry is afraid of a former Gitmo detainee loose in Brazil; Kirk might be the new PD 6-30-16

The Olympics in Brazil might have a few strange characters around, plus the guys discuss some changes in WEEI management and the sales staff bringing them breakfast

DJ Bean joins OMF, 6-30-1…

DJ Bean joins OMF, 6-30-16

WEEI Bruins Reporter DJ Bean joins Glenn and Lou to talk about the B's waiving Dennis Seidenberg, and the Jacob Trouba rumors.

OMF examines the Red Sox' options for roster improvement, 6-30-16

Glenn and Lou try to figure out what the Sox can do to right the ship

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics PG, joins OMF, 6-30-16

Isaiah Thomas talks to Glenn and Lou about why he loves Boston, the NBA Money Bump, oh, and some Durant guy

Off-season changes (so fa…

Off-season changes (so far) seem to underwhelm Bruins fans

We discuss the moves (or lack thereof) of the Bruins so far, and how fans have been less than receptive to the few changes.

Time for changes up top? The John Farrell debate engulfs Red Sox nation

Should he stay or should he go? We discuss it.

Dale and Holley's Four at Four - Social Media Day Edition 06-30-16

Inspired by "Social Media Day" we look at four instances where athletes do it the best (or worst) on social media.

Ep. 21: Antoine Walker

Ep. 21: Antoine Walker

Kirk Minihane talks to Antoine Walker about his troubles with gambling, losing his $100m fortune, his relationship with Paul Pierce, and playing under Rick Pitino.

Ep. 20: Jan Volk

Former Celtics General Manager Jan Volk joins Kirk Minihane for a discussion that any Celtics fan will love. Kirk and Jan talk about the legendary 85/86 Celtics and how the team was constructed and of course the decision to draft Len Bias and his tragic death.

Ep. 19: John Tomase

Kirk Minihane sits down with John Tomase to talk about the current political landscape, John's desire to write about social issues, and of course Spygate is discussed.

College Puckcast – Brui…

College Puckcast – Bruins first-round pick Charlie McAvoy

WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin talks to Boston University defenseman Charlie McAvoy about getting drafted 14th overall by the Boston Bruins.

SoccerCast - Zlatan announces next club, Iceland's EURO run, and is Messi really done? 6-30-16

Ben, Russ and Alex start the show by discussing the breaking news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is headed to Manchester United. They also continue to cover the EURO's and Iceland's improbable run through the tourney. And of course, inevitably, they address Lionel Messi's announcement that he is retiring from Argentina.

Enough About Me - Ep. 21: Antoine Walker

Kirk Minihane talks to Antoine Walker about his troubles with gambling, losing his $100m fortune, his relationship with Paul Pierce, and playing under Rick Pitino.

D&C - Kirk is not getting…

D&C - Kirk is not getting the First Take gig; Gerry loves soccer 6-29-16

The guys finish the show bantering about Max Kellerman apparently getting the Skip Bayless job, Iceland's win over England in the Euro 2016, and Caitlyn Jenner on SI

More from this show

Enough About Me - Ep. 21:…

Enough About Me - Ep. 21: Antoine Walker

Kirk Minihane talks to Antoine Walker about his troubles with gambling, losing his $100m fortune, his relationship with Paul Pierce, and playing under Rick Pitino.

More from this show

D&C - 'Tension' on Dale &…

D&C - 'Tension' on Dale & Holley with John Farrell, Dale vs. Holley 6-29-16

Dino, Gerry and Kirk discuss Tuesday's Dale and Holley show which feature some measure of tension during the interview with John Farrell and during a Rick Porcello debate

More from this show

D&C - Donald Trump is in …

D&C - Donald Trump is in town for lunch and Gerry Callahan has free tickets 6-29-16

Should Callahan go to the Donald Trump luncheon at the Langham Hotel? The guys discuss as well as the risk of celebrities endorsing Trump publicly.

More from this show

D&C - Hottest sideline re…

D&C - Hottest sideline reporters, reactions to getting doused in Gatorade 6-29-16

Texas Rangers sideline reporter Emily Jones likes getting doused by Gatorade. A D&C caller accuses the guys of being sexist in their analysis, which leads to a debate of the hottest sideline reporters in sports.

More from this show

News & Analysis