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

NFL Sunday - the Easter/o…

NFL Sunday - the Easter/offseason edition - with Greg Dickerson and Chris Price --Hour #2-- 4-5-15

Greg and Chris discuss the Pats kicking the tires on Rolando McClain, something that shocked both of these guys. They also get into the Aaron Hernandez trial and Robert Kraft appearing as a witness last Tuesday. Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders, called the show to talk offseason free agency, Pats HOF/Parcells and more. The guys also got into the NFL schedule coming out soon and who the Pats will open with.

Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders, joins Dickerson and Price on NFL Sunday 4-5-15

The intelligent and knowledgeable Aaron Schatz calls the boys to discuss the Patriots offseason, how some teams don't need to make moves in free agency to improve, the Pats HOF debate and much more.

NFL Sunday - the Easter/offseason edition - with Greg Dickerson and Chris Price -- Hour #1 -- 4-5-15

In hour 1 on this fine Easter Sunday, Greg and Chris discuss the Patriots Hall of Fame - who's in, who's not and who should be? They also get into the NFL draft and discuss some particular names Pats fans should keep in mind with WEEI.com's Mike "Trags" Petraglia.

Brian Scalabrine: I am th…

Brian Scalabrine: I am the biggest Marcus Smart fan. 4-2-15

Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.

We Love Anthony Davis - Celtics Playoff Push, 3-25-15

Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.

SB Nation's Paul Flannery joins Mike Mutnansky, 2-19-15

Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline

Xander Bogaerts with Joe …

Xander Bogaerts with Joe and Dave

Xander had the game winning hit in the bottom of the 9th to get the Red Sox on top of the Baltimore Orioles 3-2, he talked with Joe and Dave after the game about what his thought process during the at-bat was and the excitement of a walk-off.

Buster Olney, ESPN: Buccholz quit on Sunday. 4-16-15

Buster Olney of ESPN joins the guys to talk about the first two weeks of the baseball season. They discuss the struggling Red Sox rotation and the potential of the high-powered offense.

Ryan Hanigan with Joe and Dave

Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan after the Red Sox come back to beat the Nationals 8-7.

Pierre McGuire: Bruins wi…

Pierre McGuire: Bruins will need help to get into the playoffs 4-9-15

Cominf off a terrible game agaisnt the Capitals, Pierre McGuire discusses Claude Julien's decision to mix up the lines as well as the Bruins two remaining games.

Jack Edwards with Dale and Holley

We talk all things Bruins with the great Jack Edwards of NESN as they prepare to take on the Capitals.

Sunday Skate with WEEI's DJ Bean, ESPN Boston's Joe McDonald and Pete Blackburn--HOUR #2-- 4-5-15

In hour 2 of the Easter edition, the Sunday Skate crew discuss Reilly Smith and how he is struggling to get on track. This leads to a discussion of his much disputed new contract and Chiarelli's way of conducting team business. They get in Gregory Campbell's role on the team and if he still deserves as much ice time as he has been getting. More line discussions and a look at the B's playoff push ensue.

Answer The Question Kirk …

Answer The Question Kirk 4-17-15

The latest edition of Answer The Question Kirk with Rob Bradford and Gary Tanguay.

Danny Ainge on the Celtics chances against Cleveland 4-17-15

The Celtics president of basketball operations joined the show to preview Cavs Celts.

Todd McShay on the Pats draft 4-17-15

The guys discussed the Pats draft with Todd McShay.

Aloha Friday - Christian …

Aloha Friday - Christian The Country Star. 4-17-15

Kyle Draper and Sports Radio Hack Lou Merloni make up after beefing earlier in the week, Aaron Hernandez gets taken down by Larry Willmore, and our very own Christian Fauria makes his Country Music Debut

Mike Gorman: Celtics will win in 6. 4-17-15

Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman joins the guys to defend his prediction of Celtics in 6.

Are the Red Sox instructing Hanley not to dive in the outfield? 4-17-15

After some suspicious outfield play from Red Sox Left Fielder Hanley Ramirez, the guys question whether or not he has what it takes to play in the outfield, a position he has never played before.

Celtics set to take on th…

Celtics set to take on the Cavs in round one: Do they have a realistic shot at an upset?

Michael, Jerry and Andy Hart discuss this year's Celtics as they enter the playoffs to take one of the best teams in the East in the NBA Playoffs.

ESPN Anchor goes 'mean girls' and gets suspended: Have we all been there?

We discuss the Britt McHenry suspension from ESPN, and the incident itself, and whether or not we've all had an incident like this, and whether her response was in any way appropriate.

Dale and Holley's Final Drive - 04-17-15

We wrap up the day with some of the best sound of the day and the week.

The Planet Mikey Show Mon…

The Planet Mikey Show Monday 4-13 Sox Home Opener and Season Ender

Mikey Adams, joined by Lenny Megliola and Chris Villani, talks about the Red Sox home opening win at Fenway and the Bruins fallout after missing the playoffs including the future of Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien.

Chris Price joins Mike Mutnansky

Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season

Mut's rant over the Jets filing tampering charges

Mut opens his show talking about the New York Jets filing tampering charges on the Patriots

We Love Anthony Davis - 2…

We Love Anthony Davis - 2015 Playoff Preview

Ben and Sam are joined by Julian Edlow from WEEI.com to give their predictions on every series in the NBA Playoffs.

Unsportsmanlike Podcast - 2014-15 Bruins Autopsy

Jerry is joined by hockey writer Brian "Rear Admiral" McGonagle of Barstool Sports to perform a post-mortem on what happened to the 2014-15 Bruins, who's to blame and where the team goes from here.

SoccerCast - Champions League Matchups, Transfer Rumors

Ben and Alex break down Leg 1 of the quarter finals of the Champions League and talk about some of the most interesting transfer rumors.

Danny Ainge on the Celtic…

Danny Ainge on the Celtics chances against Cleveland 4-17-15

The Celtics president of basketball operations joined the show to preview Cavs Celts.

More from this show

Todd McShay on the Pats d…

Todd McShay on the Pats draft 4-17-15

The guys discussed the Pats draft with Todd McShay.

More from this show

Do the Celtics have any c…

Do the Celtics have any chance to beat the Cavs? 4-17-15

With their opening round playoff series starting this weekend, the guys discuss whether or not the Celtics actually have a chance to win the series.

More from this show

Dale and Holley's Final D…

Dale and Holley's Final Drive - 04-16-15

We wrap up the day with the best in sound that you may have missed.

More from this show

Britt McHenry ripped at t…

Britt McHenry ripped at tow lot cashier 4-17-15

Gary, Rob and Kirk discussed the hot water that Brit McHenry is in.

More from this show

Weei Writers