Every cancer story has one common denominator: the day everything changed. For us, it was August 16, 2016. Our daughter had been having flu like symptoms for two weeks. We took her to the doctor, then the ER. We were given fluids and sent home. We headed to our cabin where we enjoying a gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer day when Avery casually mentioned she’d been seeing double.. I froze. I knew in that moment, our world had just changed.
Just weeks before her 11th birthday, Avery was diagnosed with a rare, highly aggressive Stage 4 Brain Cancer called AT/RT. It was inoperable at the time. During the following months, she endured six weeks of cranial and spinal radiation, five brain surgeries, and six months of high dose chemotherapy. We took it one painful step, often one painful moment, at a time. Nothing will ever be the same for Avery, but she is still her extremely smart, funny, beautiful, optimistic self that has fought with grace, determination and bravery. The road is long and it is daunting, but it is also filled with hope. And today she is miraculously cancer free!
There is one shadow that hangs over us: If Avery’s cancer returned, her body could not endure the treatment she’s already had. Thankfully, the brilliant team of researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital are working tirelessly to change this. They recently launched a CAR T immunotherapy trial to find better treatments, and possibly cures, for kids with brain cancer. For Avery and hundreds of other children, it offers hope that didn’t even exist yesterday.
We are so grateful for what Avery calls, “The Difference Makers”; donors who support Seattle Children’s experts that are laser-focused on making possible future miracles a reality for families who desperately need them.
Here is Avery in her own words, just weeks after her diagnosis….
Hi everyone! If I don't you know you, my name is Avery Berg.
I have AT/RT cancer and am undergoing treatment right now. Thank you so much for being here. I can't believe how many of you have come here to support me. You are not only supporting me but all kids with pediatric brain tumors. I never wanted to get this - no child should ever have to go through what I'm going through right now. It's people like you - people who send me letters of encouragement or tell me everything's going to be okay that keep me going.
A few months ago I never knew I'd be here; addressing you guys with a bald head and having bragging rights to five brain surgeries. But yet I am and I have to live with it. The easiest way to do that is to take it one day at a time. I know there will be many days ahead, but if I can conquer the day that lies before me, I can conquer the trek that this will be. So many times I've thought: Why me? Why anyone? Why should someone have to go through countless days of treatment, surgeries; big and small, being on bed rest in the hospital, or throwing up constantly because your shunt malfunctioned? Now I know. Because when the world can see all the sickness in the community around them they can feel the pain one is going through and realize why we can't ignore this. The reason why pediatric brain tumors are so underfunded is because it is not known about. But when people have loved ones going through this they spread awareness, and it's events like these that are the difference makers. You are the difference makers. Thank you all for being here and supporting me through this tough time.
Let's go be awesome together! Thank you!