Be humble in the presence of God's mighty power, and he will honor you when the time comes. God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him. 1 Peter 5: 6-7
Welcome to Brooke's CaringBridge page! Please visit often to read entries, view photos or write a guestbook note! (or send a note: Want to send Brooke a note? Her home address is: P.O. Box 154, Chapman Ranch, TX 78347
When your child is diagnosed with cancer, your life stops, changes course, and begins instead toward a path to do anything & everything to help your baby.
Brooke is our baby; this is her story... Brooke is 6 years old and loves pink, ponies, cats and dogs, and dinosaurs. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. Brooke was always a healthy child with ear infections as her biggest hurdle. She had a great summer in 2010 and even learned how to swim! By August, a few, sporadic things began to occur. First she had a couple of strange, unexplained fevers. We thought perhaps it was her ears, or a bladder infection, but those tests came back negative. Then she had a couple of intermittent times she made a "volcano" (what she calls getting sick to her stomach)...again with no real pattern or explanation. In late September, she started having a strange limp and her right knee was becoming swollen, and it was getting harder for her to walk. By the time she had stopped walking completely, and not even crawling because of the pain, the pediatrician's initial diagnosis was Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and he immediately wanted her to stay home and wait to see a pediatric rheumatologist. Meanwhile, Brooke had begun rapidly losing weight with less appetite, and at 3, she was barely crawling, or pulling up and holding her back, but she only complained of knee and tummy pain. A sonogram, nuclear scans, MRI/MRU and later tests revealed a large mass in her abdomen pressing on her left kidney, spine, and internal organs. They told us it may be a kidney stone...
On November 18, 2010, our lives forever changed. Brooke was diagnosed with stage 4, high risk Neuroblastoma, which is a form of nervous system cancer that had spread to her bone marrow.
We have faced this battle armed with prayer warriors, friends and family ready to help pull her through. Financially it has been incredibly challenging as we have gone from a two income, one home family to a family separated by thousands of miles trying to maintain two places to live and receive health care for Brooke on one salary. We spent an entire year living at the Ronald McDonald House in New York for the surgery of the mass and to battle the bone marrow cancer through clinical trials. While daddy has been home most of the time working and maintaining insurance coverage, Brooke and her mom have been home for only a few weeks in the past two years as we now have Brooke at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Michigan seeking new hope in a ground breaking NMTRC genomics trial and personalized medicine against her aggressive type of recurrent stage IV cancer. We are still praying for remission daily!!
Although now she is 6 and a half, Brooke continues to bravely fight this battle and our family has set up a special charitable account, the "Brooke Hester Donation Fund" at any Wells Fargo branch.
Our faith is strong and we BELIEVE in the power of prayer!
Thank you for supporting our Brooke through her journey!
As we first walk back into our quiet little home, I look around and am flooded by the familiar. Some things slightly different but most things resting just the way we left them. The humidity of the air is the breath of our little South Texas home on this amazing ranch that is such a blessing to our lives in countless ways. I collapse into a long hug in my husband's arms and allow myself to sink into the realization that we are finally home... again.
After that, Beau is basically kidnapped by his little girl as she flits from one familiar activity to the next with him. At one point I was outside with her and her incredible kittens (that are now cats) came up to her and I told her, "Look Brooke! They've missed you!! Aren't you going to pet them?"
"Hey Brooke, look your cats are following you!"
"...yeah, I know."
"Well aren't you going to pet them?"
"I am waiting..."
"It's on my list of things to do with Daddy."
The picture with this post is her "list" of things to do with Daddy. The day after the Oxiliplatin, Brooke was in the middle of drawing something and said her fingers were cold and numb and rather than drop the pen and give up, she quite determinedly clubbed it with her fist and continued to draw. It was heartbreaking but I reminded myself the peripheral neuropathy she is experiencing is not life threatening. The cancer is.
Her list here has a section torn off because she only wanted to draw 7 things to do since she is "almost 7."
The choices a parent of a child with cancer must make are so incredibly difficult and that is why we never make ours for Brooke without first giving it to God in prayer.
Brooke is now home and yesterday at clinic didn't even need platelets as hers were still holding out (at 50) from the urgent transfusion she had Monday in St Louis (when they were 6). Her hemoglobin is dropping and is already 8.7 but not low enough to transfuse so she will probably be extremely tired by her next hospital appointment on Monday. Her immunity is also on its way down, so we are taking necessary precautions. Brooke successfully had her Velcade chemo yesterday too and we are so happy her home team of nurses took such great care of her yesterday... they are such a blessing.
Brooke and Benjamin both enjoyed the warm sunshine on sun deprived faces!!! In fact, we ALL did!
This is a song from a very happy girl who just finished doing one of the things from her "daddy-do list" and I hope it makes your heart smile as much as it did ours. You will have to watch to see which of her items on the list that it was.
Have a blessed day... Remember the gift is time and there is no time like now!