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Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)
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Cautious but curious, Avani was a rule-following, organized, fun-loving, and big-hearted little girl. Everyone that knew her loved her. She always greeted people with a smile. If you were to ask someone what they remembered about her, they would respond with that smile. (She had the best giggle too!) She was the first person to greet a new student and make them feel comfortable in school. Her mom, Sandra, remembers asking Avani after her first day of kindergarten, “Did you make any friends today?” Avani answered in a practical tone, “Mom, we’re all friends.”
Avani loved board games, drawing, reading, and always wanted a dog. She was talented at any kind of sport, especially tennis, and her classmates would often argue over who would have her on their team. Trying new things intrigued her, she excelled at anything challenging, and she just enjoyed life during her short 11 years.
Not only was Avani able to live a normal life, but she was also considered for the gifted program at school. She played sports and made friends and was seemingly healthy until her last day, all while having undiagnosed DIPG.
Avani never showed any obvious symptoms of her cancer. One day she became ill, and sadly passed away that same night. It took a few months for her family to learn the cause of death – a tumor in her brain that burst. Avani never complained, not even on that night.
To anyone who might be facing a childhood cancer diagnosis, Sandra says it’s important to find a support system. “This is hard on the entire family in different ways,” she says. “Each person has their own struggle. Keep communication open honest and respect each other's feelings. Be kind to each other but also be kind to yourself.”
After Avani passed, Sandra looked at a few different organizations to support. Her decision was made when she spoke to Liz and Jay Scott of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. “The Scotts truly care and are doing amazing work to give hope to children’s futures,” she said. Her family has participated in the Childhood Cancer Walk/Run in Philadelphia as “The A Team” and attended the Lemon Ball in past years.
Information provided by Sandra D., Avani’s mom
Updated December 2022
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