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Brooke’s Story

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!


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Latest Journal Update

Missing, Running and Loving

The farther I get from the last moment I was able to see or hear or hold my daughter or her precious hands, the harder it gets.

I always promised God that Brooke was his. I can't even count how many times I lifted her name in prayer and asked for His will over my own and reminded myself she was His daughter before she was my own. I prayed for His mercy and healing in her life in His time and His way... and let go knowing He was in complete control.

God has mercifully healed my child. He took her from the misery of the relentless cancer that was within her body and made her whole and new and perfect without pain, without fear, without tears.

None of this changes how much I miss her and long for her presence, her contagious laughter, her joy and creativity in my life.

Since Brooke's passing on to heaven, our family has continued to be blessed by loving friends and family that have surrounded us in countless ways to help be a net of love and healing in our long days and restless nights without our sweet baby girl. Every single day there are brand new reminders that our child is no longer with us and although some friends we had while Brooke was with us have already begun to dwindle and fade slowly away from our lives, others have done quite the opposite, taking more time to find time to be there for us despite our urgencies for them not to go out of their way to do so.

As I go through each day, "challenges" are so much more mundane now compared to the constant fight or flight syndrome of parenting a child with a life threatening illness. The struggles of the day seem less urgent and much less stressful as it was protecting and caring for a little girl with a suppressed immune system, constant risk of falling and bleeding, and the whole body fragility of fighting cancer, the harshest and most deadly disease a child can face. I miss the challenge of cancer because I miss Brooke. I would take back any part of it in a second knowing I could have an extra second of time with my daughter.

But that is selfish.

I am selfish.

I miss her.

God knew better. He knew the challenges she would face and He knew when He would take her hand and lead her home.

Every single second since 12:55pm on June 26th, my heart has been broken. I have an aching hole of pain missing Brooke. It does not get any better and some moments are worse than others, but my faith in knowing that SHE is healed, that "Brooke all better" as my now 2 year old son still discusses with me every single day, is like a reset button to dealing with my bleeding heart. Having the opportunity to continue to give forward in ways I know Brooke would want me to do brings peace in the pain of my loss.

Brooke did not lose to cancer. Her body succumbed to it but her soul grew stronger and closer to God as a result of it. She won the glory of Heaven. We feel like we lost her and yet as other kids come home from summer camp and go back to school, I know my little 8 year old miracle baby is in the best summer camp of all and never has to come back to the harsh battle of her life. She will never come back to this temporary home of ours, to this temporary backyard, as she strolls the golden streets of heaven holding Jesus' hand, free to sing, dance, laugh and live in love.

What I miss the most is everything.... I miss her voice, her carefree nature, her constant longing to "play" and interact with people (not toys), her silliness, her sparkling green eyes, her tenacity, her compassion, helping her, snuggling up beside her, her kisses, her hugs, her confident high fives... her joy.

As you can imagine, this has been an extra emotional weekend for our family and for my heart. I am still within the stretch of time to be able to devote myself to my son now as if he is an only child - to be there for him as he learns and grows in this confusing way without the physical presence of his big sister there in his life anymore. He is so different than her in his very boyish mannerisms and yet he is so much like her in many ways too, especially his intellect and creativity. Benjamin is so bright and full of music and love. He delights in the small joys and has a strong willed independent personality. Every night he cuddles up to my basketballish, growing belly and talks to Julianna and talks to me about Brooke. He makes statements I know are questions and last night was no different.

"Brooke all better. Brooke with Jesus. Brooke boo boo all gone. Ben got boo boo. Stay in Ben's bed. Don't climb out Ben. Brooke in Heaven. Brooke sleeping?"

On the night before his birthday he hit his head pretty hard.... climbing out of his playpen and falling into the edge of a nearby chest of drawers. It hurt him and scared him and we iced it down and comforted him. It was not his biggest "boo-boo" to date (the time he fell into a piece of a rusty metal wire cross in one of my mom's pots takes the cake for that one so far as he is fortunate to come out of that one with only a small scar under his right eye and not the loss of his right eye), but it was likely the one that scared him the most as he was alone in the dark when it happened.

"Benjamin.... you did have a bad boo-boo when you climbed out of that playpen, didn't you? You are okay though. Your boo-boo got better. Brooke's boo-boo was different. Hers was inside her body and only God could make it all better. Brooke is not sleeping, she is in Heaven now. Her boo-boo is all gone and she is all better. We will see Brooke again in Heaven one day."

"Brooke boo-boo bye bye."

"Yes, Brooke's boo-boo is all gone"

"Brooke all better."

"Yes.. Brooke all better."

"Ju-nana in mommy's tummy."

"Yes.. Julianna is in mommy's tummy."

"Ju-nana come out."

"Yes.. Julianna will come out when it is time."

"Nite nite Ju-nana."

"Goodnight Benjamin."

He wasn't quite 2 when his big sister closed her eyes for the last time. He was already well aware then too his baby sister was on the way. Just like us, Benjamin knows Brooke is gone and that Julianna is coming. What we don't want is a son that is afraid to go and explore and get hurt because of fear of getting a boo-boo. Yes we parent our son and protect him to our best ability, but we want him to be as physically and emotionally strong as he can be while we work not just to help him be healthy and grow with his physical body but to feed his faith as well. Just about every other meal we have to pray two or sometimes three times because Benjamin won't let go of our hands and wants to close his eyes and pray "...again... again." So we do. He is already strong in his faith, and this makes us very proud of him.

We made a whirlwind trip this weekend to the Fort Worth area and probably spent more time driving on the road than we actually did just being there. It was the 5th annual Brooke Hester Hustle that happened again thanks to Sue Ann and all of our families and many friends who once again brought the community of Kennedale together and gathered to make a difference for all children with cancer in Brooke's name and honor. It could not have been more perfect or more emotional. I cried every time I saw her picture and beautiful smile knowing how much the race meant to her and how much she would have loved it. I cried seeing the blossoms up for donations on the table. I cried when I did my cheek swab to do my bone marrow registry to hopefully be eligible to save a life. I cried knowing how much other people still miss and love Brooke. I cried when the band played knowing she'd never get the chance to play in a marching band like Mommy did. I cried watching my husband start and finish a full 5K when he hadn't even run since January. I cried when my son saw him and ran to him. I cried when Beau scooped him up in his arms and finished his long 5K carrying our 30+ pound boy. I cried missing Brooke....

The event was extraordinary. The course record was broken. The weather was perfect. The morning was gorgeous. The air was full of love. It was the best Brooke Hester Hustle yet. My heart was full of heartache and bursting with love all at once.

After the hustle, Beau left with his brother and cousin to go get our tire fixed. After we drove all day Friday we arrived late Friday night with a tire pressure light that suddenly came on. The tires all looked okay so we went to bed. The morning of the hustle we found a completely flat front tire on the driver's side and thankfully Grandma had room for us to scramble up into her truck to get to the hustle. It was a hectic morning but we made it. While waiting on the tire, Beau came back to be with Benjamin for his nap and I left with Grandma Lucia to go to Great Aunt Beverly's home where Beau's family hosted a beautiful baby shower for Julianna.

I walked in the door and saw all the pretty pink and immediately it made me cry. It was so perfectly beautiful and Brooke would have loved it. So many loving friends and family were there and I felt surrounded by love as I opened each precious gift. It was extremely special and memorable. Although we do have some of Brooke's baby things in storage, I haven't been able to go through them. I still don't even go into her room. It is just closed and hurts so much to walk into. Having these special clothes and gifts for Julianna warmed and comforted my heart in a way that I don't know how to describe other than to say it brought me some peace in my aching heart. Beyond thoughtful gifts chosen and made from the heart especially for my baby girl on the way were each like meaningful treasures to me. But more so, being there, surrounded by so much love for this unborn child and for our family yet again, reminds me of how much I love my family and friends. From the beautiful cake with girly owls and blossoms, to the sweet treats, thoughtful decorations and precious gifts, our hearts and truck were full making the long haul back home that evening. Beau and I talked and cried and laughed at Benjamin as we kept him entertained and comfortable on the trip. We were welcomed driving back into the city of Corpus Christi by seeing a beaming billboard bright in the night sky with Brooke's sweet smile as if to say welcome home y'all. Thanks to generous friends with Lamar Advertising, her picture was there advertising the 3rd annual Brooke Hester Be Bold GLOW Gold family walk/run to kick off September as pediatric cancer awareness month here on September 5th starting at 7pm.

It was the perfect emotional ending to a perfect emotional trip and it leaves my heart with this. No matter where we go or what we do without Brooke, she is there with us in a way because we carry her in our hearts. We miss her beyond measure and we see her in every flower, sunrise or sunset and we see her in one another through acts of love, kindness, compassion and tenacity. We may not be able to hear or touch or see her, but we feel the joy she left behind and we live knowing we will see her again - in God's time - and for this, we are the most grateful of all.
162 people hearted this


39 Comentarios

Riley Watson
By Riley Watson
Just came upon your page today. Your family is truly an inspiration. May God continue to comfort you over the rest of this journey. God bless.

Riley Watson, Stillwater MN
Lynnett Jankuski
Thinking of you today Hester family & remembering your sweet Brooke. Love and prayers to you all. God Bless,
Becky Pulley
By Becky Pulley
thinking of you all and sweet Brooke and just wanted to send our prayers and love from NC. Becky
Maureen Flaherty
By Maureen Flaherty
1 person hearted this
Maureen Flaherty
By Maureen Flaherty
Oh Jessica...how can something so incredibly painful...still be "beautiful"? I read these words which are so sad...yet, so "beautiful". I know there is nothing anyone can say or do that will take the pain away...but, Brooke's beauty shines SO bright through all the sadness. Her goodness will always be here on earth. I know one of the reasons the Lord sent her here was to spread light, love, and joy... oh did that child do just that!!!!!! I'm so happy for you Jessica that you had such a wonderful family and friends to give you a lovely "pink" shower for baby Julianna. What love that baby is coming into...and what a wonderful big brother Benjamin will be. He was taught how to be the most loving sibling...by "the best"...his big sister, Brooke. Praying for you all Jessica, and always will be. God be with you always. <3
Judy Olds
By Judy Olds
Jessica, your beautiful posts are such an inspiration to me. Your faith is very evident and will get you through this difficult and emotional time. I pray for your family daily. I still keep the Christmas card with Brooke on the front on my refrigerator. I made a donation to Brooke's Blossoming Hope and you sent me a card in return. I have never met your family but you all hold a special place in my heart. Please keep us posted on Benjamin's adventures and the arrival of baby Juliana.
Gail F.
By Gail F.
we all miss her too
Marilyn Korhonen
By Marilyn and Lloyd
Dear Jessica and Beau,
I know your hearts ache so deeply. I am thankful for your ability to hold one another close and welcome the love of others. I wish there were a way to ease the ache; and I know there is not. Lloyd and I send you love. We pray for you and think of you often. Benjamin has had the best teacher of all to be a big brother to Julianna. That is just one of a million ways in which Brooke's love lives.
Joyce Nosker
By Joyce Nosker
Your Benjamin sounds like a precious, bright, sensitive, and faith filled little 2 year old. What a joy he must be.

Praying for you during the hardest moments and those that just linger. Also praying for your safe and healthy delivery of Julianna. May both of you remain strong and healthy for the remainder of your pregnancy and after your delivery.
Sarah Gouzoules
By Sarah Gouzoules
Sending lots of Love and prayers your way!!