Doctors Say Singer Likely Had Brain Tumor During ‘American Idol’

brain scan

Getty A picture of a human brain scan

Avalon Young is determined to keep singing despite her brutal battle with cancer. The singer, who placed in the Top 8 on season 15 of “American Idol,” is performing on stage for the first time since undergoing three complicated surgeries for brain cancer that doctors say likely began growing the year she became a household name on “Idol.” Here’s the latest on the resilient performer…

Doctors Discovered Tumor After Young’s Mom Insisted on Scan

Avalon Young – Earned It (American Idol 2016)2018-08-17T11:36:39Z


After Young’s successful run on “Idol,” the soulful singer released a 2016 album called “Shift” that rocketed to Number 2 on the Billboard R&B charts. She told Billboard at the time that she would do everything she could to maintain the fans who’d discovered her through “Idol.”

She said, “‘American Idol’ was one of the most amazing blessings to ever come into my life, and I do think it is important to keep doing what you are doing after the show. You have this following now, and all of these people around the world have recognized you as an R&B singer, so what are you going to do now with that?”

After touring and working on new music, Young’s health started to deteriorate in 2020, when she started experiencing inexplicable seizures, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. After months of tests turned up nothing concrete, her mom insisted that she be given an MRI scan, which revealed a brain tumor in Young’s left frontal lobe.

Initially, doctors thought the tumor was the size of a golf ball. But during a 16-hour surgery in February 2021, they found it was actually the size of a peach and was malignant. Young’s cancer required three complicated operations in 2021, during which surgeons got 97% of the tumor, but they couldn’t remove it all without damaging healthy brain tissue.

To try to keep the cancer from spreading to other parts of her brain, Young started a cancer drug and also embarked on a year-long journey of traditional treatment. She underwent radiation and now has monthly rounds of chemo, through February 2023.

Young Says Her Fans Have Kept Her Going

When Young was first diagnosed, supporters raised $100,000 to help pay medical costs not covered by her minimal insurance plan as a freelance singer. A new GoFundMe campaign hopes to raise $10,000 to help pay for Young’s living expenses since the “Idol” alum is too tired to work consistently. At the time of publication, nearly $2,700 had been raised.

Doctors believe Young’s tumor had been growing for approximately five years, which means it would have first appeared when she was on “American Idol.” Her mom Kristen wrote on the GoFundMe page, “It breaks my heart to think she probably had it then.”

Young says one of the things getting her through tough days is the support she receives from fans.

“My fans have always had my back,” she told the Union-Tribune. “I appreciate them more than anything else in the world. They’ve sent me tons of messages saying they hope I’m OK. Everyday friends are very important but having that extra support is great.”

She also said Harry Connick Jr., who was a judge on “American Idol” during Young’s season, has called a couple of times to check in on her. She was so surprised, she said, that she quizzed him to make sure it was really him.

Though she needs funds to help with her own situation, Young is also excited to use her gift to help others. She’s lending her voice to a benefit concert on September 22, 2022, to help nonprofit organization b-present, devoted to “creating a brighter future for young adults with cancer.” The Glow Up Party in Del Mar, California, marks the first time Young, 28, has performed since her surgeries and treatment began.

Young has MRIs every three months to monitor her cancer and she told the Union-Tribune that she may need another surgery at some point. She periodically posts covers of songs on her Instagram account, but hopes she can get to a point of having enough energy and focus to record more music. In the meantime, she’s trying to live life to the fullest while she can.

“I’m not going to wait any longer to do anything,” she said. “If I want to dye my hair, get a tattoo, drive to the lake for a day … I’m going to do it. Life is too short.”

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