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‘American Idol’ finalist to give first concert since cancer surgery

“Avalon Young — Bad News” were the ominous words headlining a recent GoFundMe appeal for a San Diego singer who appeared on Season 15 of “American Idol.” Avalon, who was 21 when she finished in the top eight of the 2016 “Idol” competition, revealed in February 2021 on social media that she had incurable brain cancer. Her diagnosis followed an odyssey of doctors’ appointments, tests, scans and blood work-ups in an attempt to find out why she suddenly was suffering from as many as three seizures a day.The singer/songwriter’s first hint of a problem was on her July 16, 2020, birthday when she had an unexplainable brain episode while relaxing by the pool. But it wasn’t until she took a flight to Oakland on Thanksgiving week that the partial seizures began.

When nothing abnormal surfaced after a barrage of medical tests, Avalon’s mother, Kristen Young, of Tierrasanta, asked doctors to conduct an MRI. It revealed a tumor on the left frontal lobe of her brain that may have pre-dated her “American Idol” performances.After a 16-hour surgery at UCSD Medical Center on Feb. 26, 2021, her physicians made an even grimmer discovery. The tumor, initially estimated to be the size of a golf ball, actually was as large as a peach — and it was malignant.

Removal took not one, but three operations — in February, May and August of 2021. Avalon says doctors believe they were able to extract 97 percent but couldn’t remove the entire tumor without damaging healthy brain tissue. She was given a trial cancer drug, and last January began a year-long regimen of radiation and chemotherapy in pill form.

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