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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


There are times in life that as a mother of a child with cancer I feel helpless, defeated, discouraged and broken. Sometimes it is as if no matter what I do it isn't enough... it probably never will be I guess. It's more than just parenting a child or being a caregiver to someone with cancer, it is raising a child in a situation where she has more obstacles than anything else and we have to strive to balance the challenges with incentives. I have to encourage her and motivate her without giving up - ever - to help her fight with all she has. I give all I have all the time and if I didn't then I would fail her as her mother. Really, when it is a child facing such difficult battles just to survive it is up to me as her mom to comfort her and be her friend but also her coach by helping her realize we don't have to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel when the sun comes up every day.

I got really upset tonight when mom and I switched out and she took Benjamin back to the house she asked the nurse to sit with Brooke then I took the elevator up. When I walked into the room Brooke was working on this AMAZING painting for me and oh so carefully adding intricate details as best she could sitting in a little chair next to her IV pole while her nurse had LIFTED UP HER LITTLE SHIRT AND WAS INSPECTING HER BACKSIDE AND DOWN HER PANTS!

I immediately asked the nurse what in the world she was doing to Brooke and she told me she was looking for bruises on her back that she had heard from another nurse that Brooke was all bruised up.

"WHAT?!?!? What are you taking about? Let me see? I don't see any bruises. Brooke did something happen?"

"No, mommy I was just painting and the nurse wanted to look under my shirt but I kept painting."

I was NOT happy to say the least.

Even when doctors come in to examine Brooke under her clothing we are present as is usually a charge nurse. NOBODY should take advantage of an extremely compliant, amicable child who always has to do whatever she is told in the hospital and take it upon herself to wait until the child is alone (when we had trusted her to the nurses protection for only minutes to go up and down an elevator) and then start violating the child by looking under her blouse!

"There are no bruises on Brooke's back. What were you doing?"

"I saw something down there..."

It was all I could do to hold my temper.

"Those are her scars. She gets bone marrow biopsies every six weeks for over four years now they drill into her back and the areas are just barely healed before they are doing it again." I know I was talking really fast... I could see she knew I was not happy, and I continued, "She is twice a week platelet dependent since ICE chemo in March 2012 followed by MIBG therapy in May 2012 and with 52 weeks in a year that means she has gotten anywhere from 104 to probably 120 platelet transfusions a year over the past almost 3 years. It doesn't take much for her to bruise as she is very delicate and can even pressure point bruise when her platelets are super low. She literally has these faded almost 'perma-bruises' on her thighs from all of the shots she gets to boost her immunity and STILL she is a happy, energetic child who likes to go home and jump on her trampoline or play with her brother or ride her bike every time she is able. But there are NO bruises on her back."

She basically stated at me and wheeled out of the room.

I was nauseated.

Brooke was happily painting this AMAZING picture and then presented it to me with such love and affection I didn't have time to be angry or to waste my time being angry with the nurse who probably didn't mean any harm "inspecting" Brooke discretely on some suspicion or hunch she had from some nurse's rumor mill. No, all I had time for was Brooke. I did later report the incident to the charge nurse in hopes it will be handled appropriately and I used the opportunity to tell Brooke she ALWAYS has the right to say no to a nurse especially if they are doing something that is under her clothing. I told her she can say NO if we are out of the room for a potty break or coffee or whatever (although we don't leave the room much). Brooke said, "I didn't know I could tell her no Mommy. I thought I had to let her and it was really bothering me. I was trying to do my details on my painting for you."

Bless this child's heart!! After all she has endured and overcome... all the pokes, prods, pills, burning medicines in her veins, radiation, chemos, surgeon's scalpels and life in a room not much bigger than the bed itself, it is so upsetting to know how insensitive it was for the nurse to do that to her and to me too! How could I EVER hurt this child? Everything we do is in effort to HELP her! To save her life! From each cup of milk with heavy cream in it or mac and cheese laced with full fat cream cheese and essential oils to soothe her and help her fight and a warm, encouraging home school experience with a worldwide foundation effort to help as many other children find their smiles in their battle with cancer as we can. She has a daddy that works all day long literally every single day of the week and goes to spend the night with her every night at the hospital so that I can be home in the morning to nurse the baby. How could anyone walk in and secretly presume Brooke should have bruises on her back!!! Oh I just cannot focus on it and my apologies for going on and on about this but writing is also my way of getting my stress off my chest and knowing that no matter what GOD has our backs. GOD has Brooke's back. He will not fail her and if she fell or got hurt and had a bruise on her back, He would help her heal. I remind myself I must not stay upset with this nurse and yet I want others to know to tell their children nobody can do that to them just because they are a compliant, polite kid who doesn't know to say no.

On a different note, Brooke's weight with the electrolytes getting back into balance is back up to 17.9 kg which is still tiny but better! She is eating better and better each day and now we are waiting on immunity to rise with high hopes for discharge soon since her fever has been gone now for days and days. Our hearts are full of admiration and hope for our sweet sweet girl and your prayers are so beyond appreciated!!
136 people hearted this



Ginger Matthews
By Ginger Matthews
Brooke knows where her momma's heart is. Look at the picture. Jessica, you have a big heart. Momma's advocate for their children when we feel/know they have been wronged. I also like the star on the heart. A simple yet detailed picture so full of unintentional/ intentional symbols. Amazing!
Heidi Bacon
By Heidi Bacon
Way to go mom
Luanne Stillings
By Luanne Stillings
I don't understand your reaction at all. The nurse was just doing her job. Sounds like she cares. You made it sound like she was molesting her. Do you really want children who are being abused to not have this advocate?
1 person hearted this
Marilyn Korhonen
By Marilyn and Lloyd
That picture is one of my favorites. I love the bright and bold colors. It celebrates your love.
Marilyn Korhonen
By Marilyn and Lloyd
Our hearts are full of love and admiration for Brooke and her fierce Mama! My prayers are endless.
Keri Dezell
By Keri Dezell
Brooke, what a beautiful picture you drew for your mom. I love the colors you chose. You are such a talented little lady. My goodness... Between your art work, your singing, your dancing and that big and beautiful heart of yours you are a shining star. May GOD continue to walk beside you and live within you...
You're unwaverung strength and faith help so many of us caught up in this nightmare aka pediatric cancer... May you always know that your beautiful Brooke and your family are being held up in prayer. May that provide you additional strength as you need it.

With love and in prayer for Brookes safekeeping and continued strength,

Keri, MY Frankie and family
wanda hibbetts
By Wanda hibbetts — last edited
Go Jessica, you and Beau are Brooke's champion! That nurse never knew what hit her! Evidently she knew nothing about Brooke's story or her treatments! So,so sorry! You turned this into that "teachable moment" for Brooke, letting her know she could say "no"! On another note, praise God for some improvement no matter how small. Continued prayers for Brooke and your family!
Sandy Yokeley
By Sandy Yokeley
I am so very sorry you and Brooke had to endure this. Praying that you will feel the Lord's peace, comfort and strength.
Beverly Turner
By Beverly Turner
Brooke makes me smile!
Sharon Stutts
By Sharon Stutts
Brooke is amazing and so are you! Prayers fo her immunity to sky rocket so y'all can go home.