ABC11 Together highlights the strength of the human spirit, good deeds, community needs, and how our viewers can help
WAKE FOREST, NC (WTVD) -- Most teenagers spend their summers taking part in a variety of fun activities. From hanging with friends to taking a dip in the pool or catching the latest blockbuster, it's a welcome opportunity for many away from the classroom to relax.
Avery Cooper's summer has been far different.
It began late last year, when Avery, then 12 years old, began experiencing headaches.
At first, her family and doctors said they believed it was just headaches, a problem Avery's mother has dealt with.
"As time went on, she started becoming sick. She would begin throwing up, and no warning - no headaches," explained Ann Burchette, Avery's grandmother.
Things took a more drastic turn when Avery began acting sluggish, sometimes sleeping 13 hours a day, and began having difficulty walking.
In mid-June, Avery's mother insisted she get an MRI.
"That day they found a tumor in the back of her head, at the base of her head, near the brain stem. And they took her immediately to Duke Hospital, where she had brain surgery the next night.
They removed the tumor about the size of a baseball," said Burchette.
The news was a devastating blow to Avery's family.
"The day we found out ... it was like the wind's knocked out of you. You can't breathe," Burchette recalled.
During the past six weeks, Avery has been receiving treatment having both good days and bad days. She's now in Florida, with her mother by her side.
With Avery's mom unable to work as she cares for her daughter, friends and strangers from across the country have pitched in to assist the family.
On Tuesday, Gooey's American Grille in Wake Forest did its part, offering to match all tips raised plus donated 20 percent of its sales for the day. By the time the restaurant closed at 9 p.m., it raised $1,172 for Avery, according to manager John Brewer..
"We're a big part of the community. If everybody would do that, it would save a lot of issues. A little bit of money goes a long way," said John Brewer, an owner of Gooey's.
"Having a place like Gooey's, there have been other places that have done fundraisers for her, it's meant the world," Burchette added.
Avery's mom updates her condition and activity on Facebook.
Last week, Avery celebrated her 13th birthday. The day began with radiation, before a helicopter trip over St. Augustine. A day that exemplified the literal highs and lows a cancer patient must deal with.
Gooey's staff said it is already ready to host Avery's next party - one to celebrate her beating cancer.
If you're interested in donating toward Avery's medical expenses, click here.