Avery BMT DAY +48 ICU DAY 11

As I was trying to sleep one night here in the ICU with Avery this week, my mom was heavy on my mind.

This entire stay has been filled with memories reminiscent of the last 53 hours we spent with Mom.

The difference maker this week? Avery.

My mom fought for over 7 years and was so tired.

Avery has proven to us time and time again she has so much fight.

When we received the call that Avery stopped breathing last Monday, I was talking to my mom as we rushed down the tollway to get to the hospital.

Just as I have multiple times over the past 11 1/2 months.

MaMaw and Joeli 2010

That same night my mom was heavy on my mind, I felt “someone” get up off the bed I was sleeping on.

The same way I did in the days after my mom passed. I felt a hand in my hand and then a weight lift off the side of the bed.

I have no doubt my mom has been walking this journey alongside us.

There have been more correlations with dates, numbers, and events between their cancer journeys than I can recount.

Sure, some are most likely insignificant to most, but meaningful to us.

MaMaws bucket list

Finally, Mom’s Bucket List.

Last year we took an abbreviated version of the RV trip on her list with plans to do it better when we could.

This year, as I began looking over the list and trying to figure out which one we could accomplish this year, it hit me.


I’ve been perplexed on how we could mark this one of the list since I first read it. This year, because of Avery’s story, we have found our answer.

Avery’s Instagram has grown exponentially in the last few months. She is nearing 40K followers and her reach is currently over 14M.

She has incredibly engaged followers from around the world; Australia, Ireland, Brazil, Portugal, Japan, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, literally every continent except Antarctica.

The online community we’ve built there has restored our faith in humanity, and kept us encouraged on the hardest days.

HEA - Holiday Toy Drive Instagram Post

Earlier this month, we decided we wanted to do a holiday toy drive for the oncology kids who will be inpatient this Christmas.

Avery started chemo on Christmas Eve last year (Riley’s 2nd birthday). It was anything but a joyous holiday for our family.

This year, we have every hope Avery will be home and we wanted to give back in a way that was personal to us.

We put out the call on her social media accounts, and within a week, we had around 200 toys delivered to our door.

Those toys will be delivered to Dallas Children’s where parents in BMT and Oncology will be able to choose gifts for their kids, wrap and give them to their child.

holiday toy drive donations under tree

What does it means to us?

We’re making a difference in the lives of these children. Their parents’ lives. And the lives of everyone who sent a toy.

mom and joeli 10-27-2010


I hope we’re making you proud this year with the way we’ve chosen to continue honoring your memory and fulfilling your bucket list wishes.

I’d never wish this journey on anyone.

But, we’ve decided to make the very best of it by continuing to educate and inform others about the reality of childhood cancer.

We plan on forming a non-profit once we get Avery well and will continue to move forward in our mission to make a difference in the lives of pediatric cancer patients.

Thank you, Mom, for continuing to inspire us.

Happy birthday.

We’re doing our best to keep your memory alive today and always.

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