“She’s one hell of a kid.”
That’s how Kristie Berg describes her daughter Avery, who starts middle school Wednesday at Explorer West.
The move from elementary to middle school is challenge enough for any child, any family, but things got unimaginably more complicated for the Bergs just a few weeks ago, when Avery was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
We found out about it from family friend Alana, who e-mailed WSB on Labor Day weekend.
Avery’s mom has been writing online about her family’s journey. From today’s entry: “My baby girl confidently walked into her middle school orientation this morning with half her head shaved and a pair of glasses with one eye blocked with scotch tape. She hasn’t been able to take a shower for days as she had a surgery last Friday and then ended up having an emergency shunt surgery on Sunday. And yet she still walked in with her head held high and her spirit eager and ready to embark on this adventure. I have never been so impressed with someone in my life.”
A few days earlier, Kristie wrote that she doesn’t know how the school year will go – after day two, on Thursday night, Avery is scheduled to start radiation therapy, which she will need five times a week for six weeks, in addition to six months of chemotherapy. The type of tumor she is fighting, AT/RT (Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor), is rare – 100 cases a year in the U.S., almost all diagnosed in infancy. But Avery was approaching her 11th birthday, on vacation with her family in August, when, Kristie recalls, she “casually mentioned she had been seeing double for a few weeks. And in that instant, our life changed.”
You can read all of Kristie’s updates – many with video of updates by Avery, who has a remarkable sense of humor (don’t miss the story of “Bob”) – by going here. She dubbed the updates “Step by Step with Awesome Avery,” and that’s the title of her mom’s website, too.
Kristie told us via e-mail, “These past three weeks have been unbelievably hard, but our community has been incredible. We should all be so lucky to live in a place with such supportive neighbors and friends. We’d love to extend this invitation to our entire West Seattle crew and have any attention we can brought to fighting pediatric brain tumors.”
The invitation to which she refers is an invitation to support friends and relatives’ team, Awesome Avery, for the Run of Hope coming up on September 25th to raise money for researching pediatric brain tumors. Avery’s dad Joe Berg has a fundraising page here. You can donate there and/or run by registering here.