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

Former Patriot Heath Evan…

Former Patriot Heath Evans with Dale, Holley and Thornton

We check in with former Patriot, current NFL Network analyst Heath Evans for his complete analysis on the Patriots win over the Bengals, and the rest of the NFL.

Matthew Slater on Patriots Monday

We talk to special teams Captain Matthew Slater about the win over the Bengals and some of the extra-curricular activities that took place between plays.

Bill Belichick with Dale, Holley and Thornton

We check in with head coach Bill Belichick for his thoughts and analysis on beating the Bengals, and preparing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Abdel Nader - 7/17

Abdel Nader - 7/17

Sam Packard is joined by Celtics 2nd Round draft pick Abdel Nader to discuss his path to the the NBA and how he plans to improve his game. Sam then talks to Player Development Coach Nick Friedman from Elite Skills Training, the pre-Draft camp Nader attended. Friedman also gives his opinion on the Celtics performance at summer league and the development of Jaylen Brown.

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.

Alex Cora on John Farrell…

Alex Cora on John Farrell's managerial decisions and the Red Sox roster

Chris and Rob talk with former MLB Infielder and current ESPN analyst Alex Cora. Alex talks about some of the moves he saw in the Red Sox-Indians ALDS, and talks about the core group of young players the Red Sox have

Manager John Farrell with Dale, Holley and Thornton

We wrap up the Sox season with our final weekly visit with Sox manager John Farrell, on the heels of the news that he will be back as Sox skipper for the 2017 season.

Joe Castiglione wraps up the 2016 Red Sox season

Red Sox Hall of Famer Joe Castiglione wraps up the 2016 Boston Red Sox season

ESPN hockey writer Joe Mc…

ESPN hockey writer Joe McDonald joins Ken Laird to talk #Bruins free agency 7-2-16

Joey Mac joins Ken Laird on his Saturday show to discuss the David Backes addition and Loui Eriksson departure in NHL free agency

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.

K&C - Michael Lombardi on…

K&C - Michael Lombardi on the NFL's handling of Josh Brown; John Mara is a moron 10-21-16

Listeners voice their displeasure with the NFL and Michael Lombardi called in to give his thoughts on Roger Goodell and Josh Brown.

K&C - Chris 'Mad Dog' Russo defends Josh Brown; A big weekend ahead for the Cubs 10-21-16

Gerry, Kirk and Mut react to Mad Dog defending Josh Brown.

K&C - Jerry Thornton goes after Peter King; Headlines with Kirk 10-21-16

The guys praised Jerry Thornton's questions to Peter King and headlines with Minihane.

No defense for Peter King…

No defense for Peter King's defense, 10-21-2016

Glenn, Lou, and Christian discuss the MMQB's comments on Dale and Holley defending the NFL and Giants organization. They find fault with him and other NFL apologists in their rationale of making excuses for the league and the Giants as to why Josh Brown was only suspended one game.

No More....NFL PR screw ups, 10-21-16

The OMFers open the show talking about new revelations about Giants Kicker Josh Brown and his domestic violence case. They discuss the NFL's failure to uphold the standards that they had placed on themselves in policing domestic violence perpetrators.

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio on Josh Brown domestic violence incident, 10-21-2016

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio makes his weekly appearance on OMF to discuss the NFL and New York Giants mishandling of the Josh Brown situation.

Michael Irvin - Steelers …

Michael Irvin - Steelers have their hands full with Patriots and no Big Ben

We discuss the NFL and the Patriots with Hall of Famer Michael Irvin as the Pats prepare to head to Pittsburgh to take on the Stillers.

NFL apparently learned nothing from mishandling the Ray Rice case, repeat same mistakes

We discuss Josh Brown, domestic violence and the league that never learns from it's past mistakes, the NFL

Dale and Holley's Final Drive including Laroy's Freestyle Friday

We close out the show with the best clips of the day and LAROY!

Ep. 37: Charlie Engle Aut…

Ep. 37: Charlie Engle Author of "Running Man: A Memoir

Kirk Minihane, avid runner, talks to Charlie Engle about the passion of running, how running became an addiction that replaced drug related addictions, and Charlie's time in jail. Kirk and Charlie have had similar paths through life and they discuss how a passion for running changed their lives.

Ep. 36: Kirk Talks To The Producers

Kirk was scheduled to interview Jeff Pearlman but the connection sucked and we called a late audible and interrupted the K&C Post Show podcast. Kirk takes over the K&C podcast and turns into Enough About Me and an epic bitchfest ensues.

Ep. 35: Mo Vaughn

Kirk Minihane sits down with Red Sox legend Mo Vaughn to talk to Mo about his playing days here in Boston, why the Sox couldn't have won a World Series in the 90's, and what life has been like since his playing day's have ended.

Fantasy Football Podcast,…

Fantasy Football Podcast, Week 7:

With Pete Davidson unavailable today, Jim Hackett brought in a special guest for today’s show. You know him as “Andy from Sales,” famous from his appearances as spokesman for New England Fat Loss. The loser of 75lbs has been a winner to date in the Entercom Boston Fantasy Football League, sporting a 6-0 record sitting in 1st Place. But Jim is concerned about the makeup of his team. At 6-0, there’s still plenty of work to do for Andy (picture here)… After Andy’s team diagnosis that includes some needed Waiver Wire adds and some trade options to seek, the show turns to Pete’s Starts & Sits article where Jim highlights some plays and values he likes for Week 7. The show closes with a little insight from Jim on the continued missteps of the NFL… Enjoy!

SoccerCast - Brad Feldman, Voice of the Revolution

Brad Feldman joins the show to talk about what the Revs need to do to get back to the top of the Eastern Conference, what the future holds for Jay Heaps, and the front office philosophy.

The Hot Tag - Goldberg and Rousey Return

Uncle Buck and friends discuss the return of Bill Goldberg to the WWE and Ronda Rousey's return to the UFC.

K&C - Artie Lange ripped …

K&C - Artie Lange ripped Howard Stern; Meter loves Mookie Betts 10-20-16

Gerry, Kirk and Meter reacted to Artie Lange's podcast in 'Headlines' and Meter loves Mookie Betts as the guys get a little baseball talk in during hour two of Thursday's show.

More from this show

K&C - Providence reporter…

K&C - Providence reporter Mark Dondero defends himself; Minihane is ready to fight 10-20-16

Mark Dondero of WPRI in Providence called in to defend himself and Kirk was ready to take on a listener in hour four of Thursday's show with Jon Meterparel in on Dino's Casting Couch.

More from this show

K&C - Donald Trump had a …

K&C - Donald Trump had a disastrous debate; Callahan admits the race is over 10-20-16

Gerry, Kirk and Meter discussed the 3rd and final presidential debate in hour one of the Thursday show and have all concluded Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president.

More from this show

K&C - Gerry has the reaso…

K&C - Gerry has the reason why people are not watching the NFL; A dark day for the Patriots media 10-19-16

Gerry, Kirk and Trenni talked about the brutal NFL ratings and Trags called in to defend the local Patriots media,

More from this show

K&C - Josh Brown admits h…

K&C - Josh Brown admits he beat his wife; Curtis put on a leash for photo day 10-20-16

To start hour three of Thursday's show, Gerry, Kirk and Meter discuss a New York Post story exposing Josh Brown and Curtis recounted his awkward photo day experience.

More from this show

News & Analysis