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

MMQB's Peter King with Da…

MMQB's Peter King with Dale, Holley and Keefe

We had an impromptu visit from Peter King from SI / MMQB to our Fenway Studios and decided to talk some NFL and Patriots with him.

Phil Perry, CSNNE on the Patriots and NFL free agency

Pete talks with The Senator, Phil Perry about the Patriots trading for Dwayne Allen, ruling out a return to New England for Martellus Bennett. They also talk about the potential future of Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and some of the big names in NFL free agency

NFL SUNDAY...the final segment of the year -- 2-5-17

Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.

LaVar Ball with Dale, Hol…

LaVar Ball with Dale, Holley and Keefe

Dale, Holley and Rich Keefe discuss NBA lottery pick Lonzo Ball with his very outspoken father Lavar Ball. The guys touch on the Celtics, his feud with his sons' high school coach, Lonzo being better than Steph Curry and much more.

Kirk and Callahan- Will Isaiah Thomas win a title in Boston? 3-7-17

Kirk, Gerry, and Alex Reimer discuss whether or not Isaiah Thomas will win a title in Boston.

Kirk and Callahan- Celtics lose after Thomas mishandles the ball 3-6-17

Gerry, Kirk, and Trenni react to the Celtics loss against the Suns.

David Ortiz with Dale, Ho…

David Ortiz with Dale, Holley and Keefe

We speak with David Ortiz, co-author of the new biography Papi: My Story with our own Michael S. Holley.

Bradfo Sho, Ep. 31: The definitive Rafael Devers podcast

Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero, the man who had a huge hand in signing top prospect Rafael Devers, joins Rob Bradford to talk all things Devers. Romero explains how the organization locked up the talented third baseman, detailing how he has progressed to this point and how long it might be until the 20 year old becomes a major leaguer.

Bradfo Sho, Ep. 30: Michael Holley talks David Ortiz book

Michael Holley, author of the new book, "Papi: My Story" joins Rob Bradford to talk anything and everything about the soon-to-be released David Ortiz autobiography. Holley discusses the twists and turns leading up to actually writing the book, the stories behind putting it all together and the stories behind the stories.

Bruce Cassidy with Dale, …

Bruce Cassidy with Dale, Holley and Keefe

Dale, Holley and Keefe interview the newest coach of the Boston Bruins for the first time, Bruce Cassidy.

The 1972 Bruins

Highlights

Saturday Skate - Bruins and the All-Star break

Guys talk the Bruins season so far and the All-Star Break

K&C - Tony Reali is going…

K&C - Tony Reali is going through postpartum anxiety; Boston Magazine profiles Linda Pizzuti 5-22-17

Hour 4: Around the Horn's Tony Reali is struggling with postpartum anxiety and depression. Linda Pizzuti is profiled in Boston Magazine.

K&C - Without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics pull off all-time upset in Cleveland 5-22-17

Hour 3: The guys continue talking Celtics after they beat the Cavs in Cleveland without Isaiah Thomas in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

K&C - Headlines with Kirk 5-22-17

Alec Baldwin was back on SNL as Donald Trump and the cast sang Hallelujah again. Scarlett Johansson hooked up with SNL's Colin Jost.

OMF - Pete Abraham,the mo…

OMF - Pete Abraham,the most interesting man in media. 5-22-17

Hour 4: MMQB had full day breakdown of Boston Globe's Peter Abraham and the guys have a field day with it.

OMF - LeBron has security ejects a fan. 5-22-17

Hour 3: LeBron's media buddy Brian Windhorst has LBJ's back after exchange with fan. The guys question if it was Windhosrt or LeBron that asked the fan "what have you ever done?" Callers wonder the future of I.T. on the Celtics. Glenn thinks this Red Sox team is boring.

OMF - What is Isaiah Thomas' future with the Celtics? 5-22-17

Hour 2: Marcus Smart's new hot hand in Game 3 made him star last night, will that carry through the rest of the season? Skip Bayless believes the Celtics are better without I.T. and gives his reasons why, the guys give their thoughts.

Dale, Holley, and Keefe's…

Dale, Holley, and Keefe's Final Drive, 5-22-2017

We close out the show with the best sound clips of the day.

Raymond Clayborn is the newest Patriots' HOFer, 5-22-17

Michael and Keefe react to the breaking news that the newest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame is cornerback Raymond Clayborn. The two are skeptical that he was the right pick over fellow candidates Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel.

Odd questions out of the NBA combine, 5-22-17

In a segment eerily similar to an old favorite, Producer Ben asks Michael and Keefe some of the more bizarre questions asked of potential NBA prospects during the scouting combine.

Ep. 58: Mike Finkel, Auth…

Ep. 58: Mike Finkel, Author of True Story and The Stanger in the Woods

Kirk Minihane talks to the author of the best selling book "The Stranger in the Woods" Mike Finkel. It is a crazy story of a hermit leaving in Maine. Mike is also the author of "True Story" which was made into a movie staring Jonah Hill and James Franco. Mike talks about how the movie came out, his thoughts on Jonah Hill portraying him, and if it was true to the book.

Ep. 57: Garry W. Tallent, founding member of the E Street Band

Kirk Minihane, Springsteen super fan, is joined by Garry W. Tallent, founding member of the E Street Band. Kirk and Garry talk about what it's like on tour with Bruce, how the band goes about selecting songs for the tour, Garry's projects away from the band, and Garry's upcoming solo tour that will bring him to the New England area.

Ep. 56: Howie Carr

Kirk Minihane, future radio hall of famer, sits down with current radio hall of famer Howie Carr. Kirk and Howie talk about Howie's latest book Kennedy Babylon. If you like famous people engaging in sex scandals, hard drug taking, and murder this is the podcast for you. Its a fascinating look at Boston's most famous family and the problems that took the family down.

Two Outs with Buck and Re…

Two Outs with Buck and Reimer Ep 4: Billy Bean talks Kevin Pillar slur

Alex Reimer and Steve Buckley chat with MLB Ambassador of Inclusion Billy Bean about the Kevin Pillar incident and casual homophobia in sports. Bean explains how difficult it is to stamp out anti-gay language, given how prevalent it is in our vernacular.

Interview with Jim Lampley of HBO Boxing – Preview of Crawford vs. Diaz:

Join us for our one on one conversation with the great Jim Lampley of HBO Sports. Jim Lampley offers his insights into this Saturday’s title fight for the World Jr. Welterweight Championship, with Undefeated Champion Terrence Crawford defending against Southpaw Gold Medalist, Felix Diaz. The conversation details Saturday Nights HBO Championship fight but also chronicles the recent highlights of the sport and the bright future of great potential matchups to come.

Across The Board - Preakness 2017 Preview with Mut

Mut breaks down the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes with Matt Bernier of the Daily Racing Form, Simon Bray of TVG and Dick Jerardi courtesy of Xpressbet.com

K&C - Tony Reali is going…

K&C - Tony Reali is going through postpartum anxiety; Boston Magazine profiles Linda Pizzuti 5-22-17

Hour 4: Around the Horn's Tony Reali is struggling with postpartum anxiety and depression. Linda Pizzuti is profiled in Boston Magazine.

More from this show

K&C - Celtics pull off im…

K&C - Celtics pull off improbable Game 3 victory in Cleveland; Mut nailed the Preakness 5-22-17

Hour 1: Gerry is back in with Kirk and Mut recapping the Celtics' near impossible Game 3 victory in Cleveland. Mut picked the Preakness winner.

More from this show

K&C - Without Isaiah Thom…

K&C - Without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics pull off all-time upset in Cleveland 5-22-17

Hour 3: The guys continue talking Celtics after they beat the Cavs in Cleveland without Isaiah Thomas in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

More from this show

K&C - Peter King chronicl…

K&C - Peter King chronicles Pete Abe's travel log in the MMQB 5-22-17

Hour 2: Peter King of the MMQB chronicles Pete Abraham's travel log in an unusual addition to the MMQB.

More from this show

K&C - Gerry reflects on t…

K&C - Gerry reflects on the recent passing and life of his mother 5-22-17

Gerry discusses the recent passing of his mother, Irene Callahan.

More from this show

News & Analysis