Beautiful Brooke

I wanted to share something with the world; the story of beautiful Brooke.  Her mother, Judy, recently wrote about her daughter and it really touched my heart.  It made me realize that each mother who has lost a child to cancer has a very individual, special and meaningful story to tell.  Sharing our children’s stories is so important and needed by all mother’s that have experienced the same type of loss.  We want to keep our child’s memory alive and for them to never be forgotten.

If you are a mom or know of a mom who has lost a child to any type of cancer and would like to share their story, please feel free to contact me.  I would love to post it on my blog for the world to read.  Please take a moment and read below:

This is a photo of my daughter Brooke.  On February 11, 2011 she was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a rare cancer.  She was 17 years old, a senior in high school, a three sport athlete, friends with everyone, a fun teenager who loved life, and most of all the best daughter you could ever ask for.  She had always been healthy.  On December 3, 2010 she was playing in her first basketball of the season when she went up for a layup a girl hit her leg and she suffered a tear of her acl and lateral and medial meniscus.  She had an acl repair on December 27th and everything went well.  She was up and walking around and doing her physical therapy two days later.  She wanted to get better to play softball in the spring, as her basketball season was over.  About a week after her surgery she asked me to come in the bathroom–she was hysterical.  Her left breast was very enlarged, discolored, and warm.  We thought it was something to do with her surgery.  I took her to her physician the next day, who was concerned, but after consulting with a fellow physician–felt was probably fluid build-up from the surgery.  They said if it wasn’t better in a month to come back.  In the meantime, after a couple of weeks and it not getting better, I called her orthopaedic surgeon who said it could not be from her surgery.  I started to panic after looking at things on the internet.  We went back to her the doctor who scheduled her for an ultrasound of her breast and scheduled an appointment with a surgeon.  I was scared–my mother and grandmother both had died from breast cancer.  I did not want to scare Brooke.

We met with the surgeon, and she was concerned and scheduled her for a biopsy the next day.  We got the results two days later–angiosarcoma.  It was the worse news you could ever imagine.  She was sent to Dartmouth Hitchcok Medical Center–Pediatric Oncology–on February 12th for scans, etc.  They planned a very aggressive treatment plan:  chemotherapy–infosimide and doxirubicin, radiation (26 treatments), and a mastectomy, which she had on May 21st.  Unfortunately the cancer had mestasized to a small spot on her scapula and in her lymph nodes.  She would be admitted for four days every three weeks for her chemo treatment–she actually did pretty well with it–it was very strong stuff.  She had her surgery on May 31st, and recovered quite well.  The tumor was 95% dead when it was removed and had shrunk 65%.  It was a large, high grade tumor.  She did her radiation and finished up her chemo the end of August.  Her doctor consulted with Dr. Ravi, a physician at M.D. Anderson, who has seen more cases of angiosarcoma than anyone else.  He suggested weekly paxlitaxel for four to six months just to be sure we got it all.  Angiosarcoma is very aggressive and very sneaky.  It goes places and hides.  She was able to graduate with her class in June, 2011.  Her college plans were put on hold so she could finish up her treatments, but she worked three jobs last winter and kept busy–even though she didn’t always feel that great.

She saved up her money for hair extensions.  She hated not having her hair, but she got some wigs, and you couldn’t even tell it wasn’t her hair.  In May she had scans, and her doctor said things looked good.  She had been complaining about pain in her knee, but attributed it to starting to work out again and not being completely healed from her acl surgery.  A week after her doctor’s appointment, and two days after getting her hair extensions–which looked beautiful and made her feel so good–she was at a baseball game at the high school when she moved quick to get out of the way of a ball and fell in excruciating pain.  She was transported to the hospital, where an x-ray showed she fractured her femur–most likely from a tumor.  She was transported to Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Megan Anderson did a total knee replacement and removed most of the tumor–there was not clear margins so they wanted her to have radiation and chemo.  She had scans of her entire body while at Children’s Hospital on May 19th–the only tumor that showed up was in her knee.  They did her surgery on May 25th, and she wanted to go home so we headed home on May 28th.  She started up her physical therapy and worked real hard to do what she had to do.  She had 10 radiation appointments scheduled.  I was not going to take any ache or pain for granted.  On June 4th she complained about a pain in her side.  I took her right to the hospital and they did a C.T. scan, which did not show anything.  She plugged away the next month–often times in a lot of pain–and her oncologist told her she would have to start chemo.  She said she would find one that would not make her lose her hair.  That was on June 29th.  Brooke wanted to go to Colorado in August to go to nursing school.  Over the weekend of July 1st Brooke’s breathing got bad so on July 2nd she was admitted to the hospital.  A pet scan and c-t scan showed that she had tumors everywhere–her lungs, her liver, her arms, her legs–it was terrible.  They had to put in drains to get the fluid off her lungs.  She kept getting worse and was transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on July 7th–that night she had respiratory failure and was intubated.  She did have a chemo treatment on July 5th.  They wanted to get her off the respirator.  They did another pet scan, which showed that her tumors responded to the chemo so we were hopeful.  She was in the hospital on her 19th birthday – July 21st.  I felt so terrible.  I couldn’t belive we were putting her through this, but she seemed to be responding.  She was pretty sedated and they did a tracheostomy and started to wean her off her sedation medication.  She actually seemed to be doing better.  We would take her off the respirator an hour at a time a couple of times a day.  She even got her outside so she could see her dog, Bentley.  Then on August 9th she went for another PET scan and when we got back to the room she started bleeding very badly from her lungs.  The PET scan showed the tumors had gotten much worse and had actually grown from her spine into her throat.  There was not much they could do.  We made the decision to remove the respirator–It haunts me every day–did we do the right thing?  should we have asked her?  She had told us she did not want to live on a machine.

I miss her so much every day, but have found comfort in reading blogs like Mom Minus 1 and other ones.  I don’t really know what to do without her.  I sometimes think she will be back.

That is my story–I feel like I have gone on and on.  Thank you.Collapse this post


About MomMinus1

Welcome to my blog, momminus1 (mom minus one). I am a mother of three beautiful girls, Kayla 17, Allison 13 and Ashley 5. One of my daughters recently became an angel; Kayla passed away on September 22, 2010 due to complications from AML leukemia. She was diagnosed on July 3, 2010. She endured harsh chemotherapy treatments, hair loss, rare and painful skin disorders, horrible stomach infections, weakness, loss of appetite, depression, anxiety and fear. From the time she was diagnosed until the day she died it was just 81 days..... A short, but, horrific battle with cancer. I am always asked, "How are you doing? What can I do for you? How are your two girls doing?" At times, these are tough questions to answer. And, I express myself best when I write. Writing is so helpful and therapeutic for me. Maybe I can answer these questions for those that are concerned about us. Maybe I can help another mom that might wake up tomorrow and find out that their child is diagnosed with cancer. Maybe there is a mom somewhere, like me, that just lost a child to cancer and is searching the web for answers. She might be thinking, "Is there anyone out there that understands what I'm going through?" I understand. I am grieving. I am in pain. I have a big piece of my heart that is now gone.....I would love your feedback about my blog, too. Thanks for reading!
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4 Responses to Beautiful Brooke

  1. thecookiegal says:

    I am so sorry for you lose and for the decision you had to make. It is one no parent should ever have to make. We too make the choice to take our Alexander off the machines. It was clear to us he was not going to make it and we wanted to be able to hold him in our arms for his last moments of life.

  2. SusanB says:

    That was a seriously intense account of Brooke’s disease process and the end of her life. We follow our kids as they fight the disease, and support their decisions, its all we can do. Brooke went as far as she could and then you came in behind her and helped her finish, just like she asked you to, or would have wanted. I wish you peace.

  3. GiselleP says:

    Thank you for sharing Brooke’s amazing journey. Brooke was absolutely gorgeous! I’m so sorry for your loss. I was in tears As i read your story and how much she fought. I’m so glad to have read your sweet daughter’s story. I now know about this beautiful life and her story.

  4. tersiaburger says:

    Thank you for sharing Brooke’s story. My daughter made me promise “no more hospitals or treatments”. The night before she died I lay next to her thinking that if I get her to an ICU maybe she would live…It was so hard respecting her wishes!!

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