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Funeral for Raleigh 5-year-old who died of rare brain tumor will be Thursday

The last Mother’s Day for Avery Neill

Five-year-old Avery Ann Neill was diagnosed in December with an inoperable DIPG brain tumor. She died at home on Mother's Day in the arms of her family in Raleigh.
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Five-year-old Avery Ann Neill was diagnosed in December with an inoperable DIPG brain tumor. She died at home on Mother's Day in the arms of her family in Raleigh.

A funeral service for 5-year-old Avery Neill, who died Sunday of an inoperable brain tumor, will feature lots of purple and pink — which is fitting for a little girl who loved Disney princesses.

Avery's mother, Emily Neill, posted details on Facebook about the service, which will begin at 2:30 p.m. at Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh. Visitation will follow, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

"The service will be kid-friendly and we encourage you to bring Avery's sweet friends if they would like to come," Emily Neill wrote. She urged everyone to wear pink or purple, or "Bravery for Avery" shirts that had been printed.

The News & Observer has been documenting the Neill family for months as they faced medical decisions and made memories with Avery, who has a twin sister, Bekah, and a 3-year-old brother, James. The family took a trip to Disney World earlier this year.

Avery was diagnosed in December with intrinsic pontine glioma, commonly called DIPG. About 300 children are diagnosed each year, most between the ages of 5 and 10, when dramatic brain development takes place.

The Neill family recently received a diagnosis for their five-year-old daughter Avery that has changed the course of their lives. Avery's twin sister Rebekah and their little brother James struggle to understand the 'boo boo' in Avery's head.

The tumors, which have no known environmental or genetic cause, carry a bleak prognosis: Children with the disease typically live nine to 12 months after they are diagnosed. Avery died five months after her diagnosis.

The congregation of Bay Leaf Baptist Church gathered for a special 'Night of Encouragement' for the Neill family, four months into their journey of treating their five-year-old Avery's inoperable brain stem tumor, known as DIPG.

Emily Neill has written about the family's experience on a Facebook group called Bravery for Avery, which has more than 50,000 members.

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