DODGE — Twenty-five weeks, that’s the plan. That’s how long it will take 7-year-old Avery Johnson to undergo chemotherapy during her treatment at Children’s Hospital in Omaha.
Toward the end of October, Avery, the daughter of Brad and Christy Johnson and granddaughter of Terry and Carol Johnson of Dodge, went to the doctor for stomach and bowel issues. At the insistence of one concerned physician’s assistant, a scan was conducted that led to the discovery of a tumor on her kidney. On Oct. 30, a 4 1/2-pound, stage-four, Wilms tumor of the kidney was removed along with her kidney, appendix and part of her colon. A Wilms tumor is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys. It’s the most common type of kidney cancer in children.
After meeting with an oncologist at the start of November, Avery started chemo treatments and is also undergoing radiation therapy to help target the nodules that have spread into her abdomen. Throughout her treatments, Avery and her family will be spending a lot of time in Omaha because of the nature of the chemo and radiation combination. Avery expressed a lot of excitement at ringing “the bell” on Dec. 4, signaling to everyone in the treatment center that she’s had her last round of radiation — at least for now.
Brittany, Avery’s twin sister, has been able to go in and support her sister while she receives her treatment. Both girls find comfort in each other as well as their older sisters, McKenzie and Alexis. The Johnson family lives in Greeley, which is a three-hour drive from Omaha. While the other girls are attending school at Central Valley, Christy and Brad are increasingly taking time from work and home to travel to Omaha with Avery.
The outpouring of support from their former community in Dodge and their new home in Greeley has been overwhelmingly positive.
“There are no words that can describe how blown away we are by the amount of support that we have received from our families, friends and community,” Christy said. “We are truly grateful for all of the prayers, as we believe that every prayer counts. Thank you all.”
The Cedar Hills Mennonite Youth Group near Scotia donated proceeds from its annual fundraiser, Central Valley High School held a basket silent auction, the Central Valley Drama Club donated half of the proceeds from a fundraising dinner and a GoFundMe page has raised more than $1,500 and is still accepting donations. Shirts have been designed with artwork specific for Avery and orders can be made online at bonfire.com/BrAvery-for-Avery.
For those who wish to donate directly to the Johnsons, an account was opened at Farmers State Bank in Dodge that Brad and Christy can draw from directly. Checks can be made out to “BrAvery Fund.”
A BrAvery benefit fundraiser will be held Jan. 20 in Dodge at the auditorium. A freewill donation pulled pork supper will be served starting at 5 p.m. followed by a live auction at 8 p.m. The Happy Accordians will be playing polka tunes from 5-8 p.m. and Capital Nine will finish the evening from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. A cash bar will be available throughout the event with all proceeds going to the Johnson family.
Anyone wishing to donate items for the auction can contact Kelly Johnson at 402-720-1295. New items only, please. Donations of salads and bars for the meal are also welcome on the night of the event.
For more information about donations and auction information, look for the BrAvery Benefit on Facebook.