Brittany's Story

This is Brittany 10 days before diagnosis
It was the first day of kindergarten.

On September 16th, 1993, (her Daddy's 31st birthday)our little girl was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was a month away from her 5th birthday. What followed was a rollercoaster ride of extreme sadness, fear, and at times joy.

The diagnosis of childhood cancer is a blow of such magnitude, that you cannot possibly understand unless you have gone through it. The devastation and isolation this brings to a family is incredible. The shock and fear is overbearing, yet you have to be strong for your child. Chemo is a horrible thing, all the more so when it's a child who has to go through it.


Exactly one month after diagnosis.
It's hard to believe she's the same little girl.

Brittany had many complications. It seemed if there was some strange, rare side effect out there she got it. We went through periods where she could barely walk. Periods where she was on massive doses of morphine to control her pain. Her face swelled up from the steroids, her hair fell out. Her moods swung drastically, from near hysteria, to uncontrollable tears in a matter of seconds. Overnight it seemed we lost the little girl that we knew and were left with a total stranger.


She had extreme jaw and ear pain from one of the drugs.
The only thing that made it feel better was rubbing cold water in her ears.

Eventually her ears were raw and bleeding

A year into treatment, Brittany came down with Pneumocystis Carini Pneumonia. We nearly lost her at this point. The Drs. told us she had 3 days to live. But once again Brittany surprised everyone and made it through relatively unscathed. She has some lung damage that will last the rest of her life, but considering the other alternative, I consider this a blessing.


This is the day we came home from the hospital
after her battle with pneumonia.
Two weeks before, she was in ICU, and the Drs. told us to say goodbye.

She had 26 months of daily chemo, and is now in remission and off treatment. She is a normal little girl in everyway, except for the strange maturity that she has. I think one of the worst things about this disease in childhood is the loss of innocence our children go through. She struggles with the immaturity of a 10 year old, and the wisdom of someone who has faced death and knows it.

This disease also impacts the rest of the family. Our younger daughter was only 2.5 at the time. And overnight she was uprooted from her home and her parents and sent to live with relatives for up to 2 months at a time. You can see the results in her lack of security now. When Brittany was first diagnosed a nurse told me to let go of my life as I knew it, It would never be the same. I didn't understand it at the time, but I sure do now. Your life is divided into before cancer, and after cancer, and the 2 can never fully merge. brittany

This is Brittany and Tiana on our first Christmas after diagnosis.

We are very hopeful that Brittany has beaten her cancer, and things are looking very good. But there are no guarantees. The risk of relapse will be there for years to come. They will not officially call her cured until she is 12-14.

The following is the last entry to the journal I kept during Brittany's treatment. I think it best describes my feelings....
Well another birthday spent in the hospital. The Dr. just phoned and he feels that we should stop the chemo now, as her body really needs her immune system to start working again. So I guess this is it. Sort of anti-climatic. It seems that something this important would be accompanied by at least a few bells and whistles. I guess we step into the next phase of our lives now. I just wish someone would tell me what that is. For the last two+ years, I have been so focused on her treatment, arranging appts, getting and giving medications, taxiing her around, and everything else chemo entails. There is a strange comfort in the fact that your doing something concrete to "stop the monster". Now after all we've gone through were told; you just have to wait and see, there is nothing we can do to prevent relapse, you just have to wait and watch. For how long? How long before I don't dwell on it and fear it everyday? How long before I feel comfortable making long range plans? How long before I allow myself to have hopes and dreams for her? How long before I can imagine her walking down the aisle or holding her first born? Do I ever get that confident? I really can't imagine having the security to allow myself these luxeries. And if I do ever get to that point and something happens, can I live through it, can I be shattered once again? Could I have lived through the fear and heartache the first time?... I didn't think so.


One year after diagnosis and heading for grade 1 :o),

Too read a update of our story, click HERE


If anybody would like to talk to me about this or anything else for that matter, please feel free to email me HERE

Brittany now has her own award!

If you would like this award, or know of someone that deserves it, just send me a email and let me know.


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