On June 30th, 2015 Avery Huffman was diagnosed with an inoperable, cancerous brain tumor, known as DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), a brain tumor found in the pons, part of the brainstem on the lower back of the brain, near the top of the spinal cord.
Just one week before, Avery complained about double vision and a few days later, her family noticed her right eye was inverted. After two visits to a pediatric ophthalmologist and an MRI, the diagnosis of DIPG was given to the Huffman family.
A DIPG diagnosis usually comes with the following phrases: “There is nothing that can be done,” “All care is palliative,” “It could be anywhere from a few months to maybe a year” and worst of all “There is no cure.”
Under the care of the pediatric oncology team of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma and the radiation oncology of Tacoma MultiCare, Avery spent the summer of 2015 undergoing 30 radiation treatments, which concluded in August 2015.
Just one month later, Avery started first grade at Lakeland Hills Elementary School, going every day, all day, while still undergoing bi-weekly rounds of further treatments.
A few days after Avery’s diagnosis, the #AveryStrong movement started, thanks mainly to the courage, grit, fight, strength and toughness of Avery, who while she battled cancer, never gave up. Thousands of people locally and more nationally and globally joined Avery in being #AveryStrong.
Avery was a precocious, sweet, beautiful, loving and caring girl who had just finished kindergarten when she was diagnosed. While DIPG quickly robbed Avery of her ability to walk, use her right arm or hand, see out of both eyes and restricted her to a wheelchair, she never quit trying to do the things that came so normally to her before her diagnosis.
She inspired untold numbers to never give up, to fight and to always be strong, which she did every second of her fight.
Avery captured the nation’s heart when she was named an Honorary Princess by Princess Anna of Arendelle, with Kristen Bell calling Avery to tell her of the coronation.
Her story was told by numerous media outlets and platforms, including USA Today, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Ventura County Star, Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly, FOX, NBC, CBS, Sports Illustrated and Scout.
Several high school, college and professional athletes and coaches dedicated their seasons or honored Avery in different ways for her fight.
On February 16, 2016, with her mother Amanda, father Brandon, sisters Alexandra and Addison and brother Cade close by her side, Avery took her final breath on earth before she went to heaven to be with the Lord.
Avery’s tumor and brain were donated to medical research, with the hopes of research allowing for further breakthrough and progress in the search for a cure.
While we are heartbroken that Avery left us so soon, we are committed, motivated and driven to fight back against the monster that took her life so young and have made it our mission to help fulfill our vow to Avery, that we would fight for a cure.
The Avery Huffman Defeat DIPG Foundation joins with the Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation to help them accomplish what was on Michael’s checklist and what Avery wanted us to do: Defeat DIPG once and for all.