Click the Pic below for Brooke's Facebook! -Conrad
This is the story of Brooke....
Brooke is 6 years old and loves the color pink, ponies, cats & dogs and dinosaurs. 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 JuvenileRheumatoid 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.
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 livingat 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.
BrookesBlossoms.org is an entirely volunteer led nonprofit, our mission is unique in the two-fold concept of helping children with cancer directly by providing them hand crafted headwear during the difficulties of hair loss, but also by raising awareness for the serious need to both find and fund cures for pediatric cancer. Childhood Cancer is not a problem limited to the United States.
Too many times we look at the staggering figures like “12,000 children each year are diagnosed with cancer... in the US” and while this is critical to understand, it is also heart wrenching to know how many children are globally facing this battle. For instance,according to the South African Tumor Registry, Childhood Cancer is responsible for more child deaths than HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis COMBINED, yet less than a THIRD of the actual childhood
cancer cases are reported there. This is for various reasons,
but foremost, children are being misdiagnosed due to medical staff not being aware of the early warning signs of childhood cancer.
Beyond those being undiagnosed, there are countless children fighting, relapsing, progressing, and unfortunately, losing their battles to cancer and it comes down to some pretty disheartening facts revealing lack of funding and “profitability or marketability”of drugs that cure to children who are considered a "minority" in the cancer world. It is time we start paying greater attention to the global
picture of the war on childhood cancer.
It is time too, to look beyond conventional toxic treatments to seek what gentler, more integrative approaches are already being studied and how these can pave the way to tomorrow’s pediatric cures. This is the research we are helping to fund and seeking to continue to fund for the future.
Our faith is strong and we BELIEVE in the power of prayer!
Please Pray for Brooke ESPECIALLY this weekend! - Conrad
(And please share or story and battle!)