H

ey, Readers,

A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from Libby Tescher, editor of Jr. She had a proposition for me — one of the most intense and exciting writing projects I’ve ever done. It was a phone call that has already changed my life and I know it will change yours too.

“Have you ever heard of Super Avi?” she asked.

“Rings a bell,” I said, trying to remember where I’d heard that name before.

“That makes sense,” she said. “Super Avi is a 14-year-old boy who’s super famous.”

Whoa, what? 14 and super famous?!

“I want you to meet him,” Libby said. “Hear his story and introduce him to our Jr. readers.”

I didn’t have to think twice.


Meet Avi

For our first meeting I phoned Avi, who’s up in the mountains for the summer. We spoke a bit about our plans for this column and what he wants to share with you each month.

“I think I’d like to share my story,” Avi says. “A little bit at a time.”

He starts talking and I’m awed. Are we sure Avi is really only 14?

This isn’t a story you’ll hear every day, but why hear it from me if you can hear from Avi himself?

This is Avi and this is his story:

Hi, I’m Avi Newhouse. Two years ago I was just a popular, outgoing 11-year-old 6th grader. I was just like any other kid. Then something strange started happening to me. I love everything about sports, but suddenly I began to have a hard time playing basketball. I remember playing with my friends in the gym at school and feeling very out of breath. Some days I had to stop playing after a few minutes, some days I couldn’t play at all. I felt breathless and I was wheezing and making weird sounds in my sleep. Something was going on with me but we didn’t know exactly what it was.

A few weeks after I started feeling breathless there was a big snowstorm one Thursday. The next day, on Friday morning, my mother had to drive me to school because we had no buses or Shacharis in yeshivah. When we were about a block away from yeshivah, my mother looked at me and said, “I think we should go to the doctor instead.”

That’s when my story began. The doctor sent me out of the room and told my mother what they were worried about. Then they ordered a taxi to take us to a hospital inManhattan.

Memorial Sloan Kettering — but I didn’t know what that was yet.

I had cancer — a huge tumor in my chest — but I didn’t know that yet either.

My mother, trying to protect me from getting scared, walked through the hospital while shuffling against the wall to block all the signs that said cancer.

Not that it would have mattered.

Back then I didn’t even know what cancer was. I definitely didn’t think anyone could get it.

But then I did.

To be continued…