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Avery brain tumor surgery

$10,515 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 153 people in 9 months
We found out on 6/14/2018 that our little girl has a cancerous brain tumor and needs immediate surgery.   Surgery is scheduled for 6/15/18.  The insurance that she has will only cover a small portion of the cost so I am begging for help to cover expenses to help our little girl recover and get better soon on this long road she is facing.  Thanks for any and all help and god bless you all.
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So my mom wanted me to tell you a story. A story about a very sleep deprived mom who traversed Universal Studios and Island of Adventure over a day and a half with a pretty sick kid who has cancer, dropped off the rest of her family at a big international airport and then headed back to Jacksonville (130 miles from Orlando) with a quarter of a tank of gas.

"Get gas before you leave town," he said.

Of course. Yes, dear, of course I'll get gas. Duh. But thanks for reminding me. I know you totally get that I've completely lost all my sanity so I'll let your giving me orders fly under the radar this once. Or probably not but anyway.

So the story goes that apparently, unlike NC, there's NOT a gas station at every exit. As a matter of fact, in 40 miles, I only passed like 3 exits. We could've eaten like kings. Or had a stay in what I'm sure was a lovely hospital. But we could not have gotten gas. Apparently, gas is a hard to come by staple on I-4, which by the way, I'm quite sure is the pathway to hell. If you're reading this from NC, you'd definitely have a new appreciation of our roads if you drove around down here for a day. Oh and also, by this time, all electronic devices we own have dead batteries. And both girls are bored.

So as we approach what I'm feeling like is a small hurricane sized storm in what looks like Raleigh traffic on crack at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon, I finally find an exit with a gas station. Not right off the road, mind you. Nooooo. I have to drive about a mile to get to it, make a u turn and go down a different road. Gas is 3.29 a gallon and of course my gift card won't work. Because why would it? We're at a BP station with a BP gift card. Debit card it is. Both girls want snacks and I'm so grateful that one of them even has a desire to injest something, anything at all, that I let them get whatever they want.

Here I am. At the check out. With two homeless looking children that haven't showered in 2 days, getting ready to shove two weeks worth of sugar down their gullet and my other gift card won't work either. NONE OF THEM WORK!

"I'll pay for it," said the lady behind me.

Um no. That's what people say when they're tired of waiting for you to find a gift card that works because you simply refuse to spend money on overpriced crap food (after you just spent money on overpriced gas) that one of your kids is probably going to throw up while you're driving 80mph on I 95. No. No thank you, lady. I'm not poor (actually I am). I'm just practical. Debit card it is I guess.

Oh yeah. And did I mention they don't have a bathroom?

So there I finally am. Back on the highway to hell, in literally wall to wall traffic, in a storm so bad I seriously can't even see the car two feet in front of me, lightning so close I could probably smell it if I ventured to open my window, with two homeless looking kids in the back seat shoving stupid amounts of sugar into their empty stomachs, with no access to electronics. And one has to pee.

Somebody hand me a xanax and the rum.
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Dear Warrior Princess,

I saw you the other day. For the first time in a long time. For a minute I saw you. It was the day you secretly told grandma that you wanted your mom back, for me to be happy and laugh again like I did before cancer. It makes sense to me now, all the times you've said you missed me when I'm right by your side. And so for a minute, your head was shaved because it was your preteen, almost teen, way of expressing yourself and we were here in Florida for a mom and you vacation. We snuggled on the bed that night and laughed and picked on each other like we used to all the time forever ago. And you were just Avery. My quirky, awkward, science nerd with a really good heart, an old soul, and a perfectly sarcastic sense of humor.

And just like that it was over. You got tired in a matter of seconds. The clouds covered your eyes and really dark circles appeared. And you looked like the oldest of ladies, the tiniest, moving at a snail's pace. Shaky and unstable on your feet. We lay there on a bed that's not yours. I rubbed my fingers gently down the back of your head along your scar. And I remembered. We remembered.

It's loud here. All the time. A big city with hustle and bustle 24/7. And the people honestly haven't been all that friendly. It's nothing like home. And so with the exception of moments where I see you, brief moments, everything else screams cancer and homesickness. And all I can do is keep pretending that it doesn't so that you'll be ok with this.

And while we're talking about being ok, I wish you'd eat. One of a parent's greatest sense of peace comes from knowing that their child is nourished. But you refuse. You refuse almost anything. No matter what I threaten you with. And you just get smaller and less nourished as the days go on. Quiet your soul, Avery. Quiet your mind. I know you. You may be showing signs of life on the outside, but your mind and soul are saying bad things. And I can't make that stop. Only you can. And failure is not an option.

So, my warrior princess, it was so very nice to see you there other day. Nice to know that you're at least still there. On a day when you needed to see me. And I needed to see you. We met up and had tea and a laugh, like long lost friends. We should do that more often. Because I miss you like crazy. And you apparently miss me. Even when we are side by side. Even when we are holding hands. And it's dark in my world without you. Without your light. We should definitely meet up again. You can have cake and ice cream because they're your favorites, and we can make jokes and laugh like we used to forever ago. We can snuggle and talk about your future. And we can pretend for a moment that everything is ok. Whenever you decide to appear, I'll see you then, sweet girl.

Love,

Mom
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We've made it to Florida safely! The Ronald McDonald House room we have is pretty dang awesome. And Avery has had a good day! And. We've scouted out what seems to be a pretty popular Mexican restaurant. :-)

I will be joining them soon. I will supporting a fundraiser in louisburg monday then off to Florida myself Wednesday with the other two girls.

We will be taking avery and her sisters to universal thanks to the Ronald McDonald house but first a trip to the zoo Thursday after radiation.
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Dear Warrior Princess,

We will be leaving soon. And you are still fighting it. And it doesn't matter what I tell you, you're gonna keep fighting it. So while you're internally kicking and screaming and being tormented by what will probably be the longest 6 weeks ever, probably eternity, let me tell you a story.

I've been your mom and your dad for most of your life. I had support, yes, but ultimately the buck stopped here, with me. Right up until a year or so ago, when it seems all the hard work Rod had put into developing a relationship with you over the years took effect and you decided to let him in. At least a little. But still, everyone knew and knows that I hold a responsibility that is greater than anyone else's when it comes to you. Because when you've been the mom and the dad for so long, you can't just relinquish that dad side overnight. It takes time. And effort. And a whole lotta patience, forgiveness and grace, things I honestly haven't had a lot of in recent years.

I've spent almost 13 years honing my parenting skills. I can fix almost anything in or on your body. I may not always have all the tools to do it, but I always know someone somewhere who does and I usually at least know how. So I don't have a lot of fear when it comes to physical illness or injury. Cancer is obviously different, but we are still in the midst of making you well and, in my mind and heart, there's no better hands to do that than the people we've got doing it. Which leads me to YOUR mind and heart. So fragile in a child so mighty. Your spirit is so broken and so strong all in one moment. Every day.

Mind and heart. Now this. This is an area of yours that I'm not always fluent in. But have mostly been responsible for anyway. When I took French in high school, the entire class was taught in French. From the moment I walked in the door to the moment I left. I was left floundering, most days, and occasionally, very occasionally, I'd hear something I understood. I'd get a question right. But mostly I was flying blind and landing on luck. That is the way with a child's mind and heart. It's a great burden to bear, of any parent, to guide their child's mind and heart in the way that's best for them and to seek out the appropriate help when needed. The body repairs itself much easier than the mind and heart do and the tools for the body are much simpler, much less complicated comparatively.

So Florida travel is drawing nigh. It's the closest option for us, which is why we chose it. But it seems that for both of us it just as well be the opposite end of the earth. Because while you are tormented about being away from family, from home, from everything that is familiar to you, during a time when you have zero control and EVERYTHING is unfamiliar to you, I am also. All the while being your mom, your dad, and your caregiver. You may think those are all one and the same. Well, they're not. They are all three very different roles. And they are so very emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. I still haven't recovered from our first leg of this race, and we are about to embark on the second. Mostly alone. And I get the privilege of being responsible for your mind, heart, and body in a city that I don't know, surrounded by people I don't know, mostly physically alone, and in a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. And the buck still stops with me.

Some people will say "it's only six weeks" or "it's not forever." I'm sure there are many military wives across the nation who would scoff at 6 short weeks. My admiration of them is great. But for us, for me, taking great care of a child with cancer whose mental and emotional state is precarious, at best, on a good day and who may look physically good on the outside but whose body is fighting a great battle on the inside....well, it's pretty damn rough even with a huge team of amazing doctors, great parents (aka grandparents), a "husband", and a whole community of support. My heart aches to think about what it will be like without access to all (or mostly all) of those people.

So, my tiny warrior princess, while I may be dragging you down there kicking and screaming, fighting every waking moment to not do this, just know that I have to drag two people. And both of us are fighting a great battle. And both of us are anxious and afraid. But the buck only stops with one of us. And you should trust her. Because that one spends almost every waking moment (and some sleeping ones) contemplating and making decisions, really really hard decisions, about what's best for you. Whether it's here or in Florida or on the other side of the earth.

I love you, Avery. Your body may be frail but your spirit doesn't have to be. And every leg of this race is run so that you can get better. And we're gonna run it, tormented and afraid or not.

And yes, my love, it does seem like an eternity. And I'm homesick already too. And yes, I know that by the time we get back, our summer will be over. And seasons of life and of the earth will have passed. And for a while, for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it'll be just you and me. Me. Responsible for you. All of you. And I'm sorry.

I'm sorry that you'd rather be going camping at the lake with your family than going to Universal Studios or Sea World or Disney or wherever "fun" place we get to go. I'm sorry that you'd rather be going to the pool or your marine science camp than see the beautiful beaches of Florida. I'm sorry for all the times I will not have that patience or grace or any semblance of sanity. I'm sorry you have cancer. And I'm sorry I can't fix it.

"Even though you are drowning in valleys of echoes,
I believe there is peace in those hills up ahead.
You will climb till you find places you'll never let go.
And I'll also be here praying just like I said.
I hurt too."

Love,

Mom
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