The singer-songwriter previously underwent a surgery to remove a large brain tumor earlier this year

By Tricia Despres
May 27, 2021 06:35 PM
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Singer and former American Idol contestant Avalon Young was laying in the sun by the pool with her roommates last summer which she felt as if she had woken up in a panic. The strange thing was, she was wide awake. Feeling increasingly confused, Young noticed her right shoulder tense up, and then subside after a little while.

Surely, it was nothing more than a muscle spasm. It was the day of her 26th birthday, after all.

But it was, in fact, something. After numerous seizures in the days that followed and a slew of tests and doctors' visits, Young was diagnosed with brain cancer.

"How can you be told that you have something like cancer and not think about it every day?" she asks rather matter-of-factly during a recent interview with PEOPLE.  "It's one of the first things I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I fall asleep. If I'm not making every day the best day of my life, what am I doing?"

On Thursday, Young underwent the second of a possible three surgeries to treat the cancer that was found back in November, following a series of bloodwork and electroencephalogram tests that initially showed that everything looked fine.

"All of my doctors were telling me it was anxiety at first," says Young, who appeared on season 15 of American Idol back in 2016. "I had blood work done and a bunch of mental tests and everything was coming back fine, until my mom finally convinced me to get an MRI. Honestly, that MRI saved my life."

In February, following the MRI that ultimately detected cancer, Young found herself in an operating room for the first time, undergoing a 16-hour surgery where doctors attempted to extract a peach-sized tumor from the front left temporal lobe of her brain.

"The mass of the tumor was really, really big at the time and was really important for them to get out," remembers Young, who shared her cancer diagnosis with fans in April. "So, with this second surgery, they want to get out as much as they can so when they go on with radiation and chemo, they have a better chance of fully killing all the cancer that's in there."

And while Young says she bears no malice toward the doctors who couldn't immediately find the source of the problem — "my doctors and surgeons have been incredible" — Young admits to a certain amount of irritation about the current situation she finds herself in.

"I feel like I'm mostly just angry with the thought of cancer in general," she explains. "It's hard to get used to the fact that, at 26 years old, I'm dealing with it, but I'm going to fight it. We're going to get through it and, and that'll be that."

This positive attitude is certainly being bolstered by the onslaught of support from her fans, many of whom have been with her since her American Idol days and have donated thousands of dollars in recent months to her GoFundMe campaign to help with medical expenses.

"They have supported me through every single thing that I have gone through," Young explains. "They always stand by me, and so to see them do what they've done with this GoFundMe is honestly just so special. It helps me believe in humanity a little bit more."

Avalon Young
Avalon Young on American Idol

And it's this strength that she takes into every single day.

"I take everything day by day," she says. "I mean, I could freak out if I wanted to and I've freaked myself out a few times. But I know that I have the best team of surgeons who have already taken really good care of me. I trust them to go in again and do this. We're just going to get this cancer done and then we're going to do radiation and we're going to do chemo. And then after that, I'm just going to live the best version of my life every day until I die. As this whole experience has taught me, you don't know what's going to happen to you tomorrow."

And no matter how cancer attempts to continue to alter her life, Young is going to keep making music.

"Music is the only thing where, when I'm doing it, I don't think about anything else," says Young, who will release her new album Lush next Tuesday. "I mean, I got back in the studio two weeks after my surgery, and along with my team, we created an album, which kind of blows my mind when I hear it considering I was in the middle of my recovery while making it. I feel like it sounds cliché, but music really saves people's lives."