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Trussville girl, battling leukemia, getting back to normal life

By Gary Lloyd

The blue sky is normal. The shining sun is normal. The arching rainbow is normal, and so is the purple flower, the green grass and the red ladybug that walks in that grass.

Avery Snuggs, a 5-year-old girl that attends the Wee Center at First Baptist Church Trussville, is getting back to normal.

Snuggs has been battling T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia since February 2012, when her parents took her to the pediatrician to check out what they thought to be bruising or a rash. It was petechia, which means Snuggs’ platelets were low, said her father, Chris Snuggs. He said when doctors inserted an IV in Avery’s hand, she thought something was wrong with her hand or arm.

“That innocence of not really knowing,” Chris said.

Avery Snuggs paints a blue sky.
photo courtesy of Jamie Wilson

Snuggs’ weekly chemo treatments ended around November. She now gets monthly treatments and takes nightly chemo pills. She has 15 more months of the maintenance phase to go.

Avery is involved with aTeam Ministries in Homewood, whose purpose is to support families affected by cancer. She was chosen to participate in aTeam’s Heart 2 HeART Gala on Feb. 16. Avery was selected by professional artist Jamie Wilson to paint something unique or important to Avery to be auctioned at the gala, a benefit to aTeam Ministries.

Avery and Wilson made the painting last summer. Avery painted the sky, sun, rainbow, flower, grass and ladybug. Wilson then painted a portrait of Avery painting the outdoor scene in the right corner of the painting.

“It was that much detail,” Chris said.

About six or eight paintings were up for auction Feb. 16. Avery’s painting was chosen first and sold for $4,700 to Jim and Jean Thompson of Birmingham. An original Daniel Moore painting went second for $4,100. Chris and his wife, Kim, had set a budget to spend on the painting. That number was quickly exceeded.

Chris said the Thompsons pulled the family — which also includes Allie, 7, and Macie, 2 1/2 — aside after the auction and offered to give the painting back to them to hang in their home.

“Jaws were dropped, and they hugged us and told us we definitely had a special little girl,” Chris said.

The Snuggs family is making room in the loft area of its Trussville home for the painting, where all the girls’ artwork is kept.

From left are Jamie Wilson, Jean and Jim Thompson, Avery Snuggs and Kim Snuggs.
photo courtesy of Chris Snuggs

Snuggs said after a year of being “poked and prodded,” Avery now understands why she goes to the doctor’s office. She wants to be a nurse when she grows up.

“She’ll tell you she hates cancer,” Snuggs said.

What Avery also understands is that she’s improving. Her hair is growing back. She was allowed a month ago to have her ears pierced, since she previously had trouble fighting off possible infection.

“She’s starting to get back in the normal way of life for a 5-year-old,” Snuggs said.

Avery is the honorary chairperson of this year’s East Jefferson Relay for Life, scheduled for May 17 at the youth football field in the Trussville Sports Complex.

“We want to find a cure for (childhood cancer),” Snuggs said.

Contact Gary Lloyd at news@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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