Fighting leukemia with a band of brothers
What Tara and Turner planned as a perfect snowy family trip to the North Carolina mountains in January 2009 turned out to be anything but when the Simkins rushed their fever stricken son, Brennan, back to Augusta, Georgia. Brennan was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (“AML”) on the eve of his 7th birthday.
After undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant (thanks to a donation from his older brother, then ten years old), Brennan was pronounced in remission, but soon relapsed. The hospital told Tara and Turner to pack up their bags; determined to Press On, they began a nationwide search for a hospital that would treat Brennan. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened their doors and created protocols for Brennan. He received three more bone marrow transplants, bringing the total to four in a record 18 months. His two brothers remained by his side every step of the way, from Augusta, to Atlanta, to Memphis. Thanks to his family, friends, and the dedicated team at St. Jude, Brennan has been cancer-free for six years.
It is precisely because they play that we press on. As the song says, we’re changing day-to-day, but the children always play. Through our own life-experience with innocence, we have all lived. Whether through our past, our fervent devotion to our own children, or even a glancing appreciation for a joyful child we meet in passing, we are able to taste and feel the purity of life, the irreproachability of love. Things change. People die, but the children always play.Continue Reading →
“Through the years we all will be together If the fates allow
and hang a shining star upon the highest bow, oh yeah,
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now”
Lyrics from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” from the recollected perspective of CHristmas 2010
Monday, December 5, Brennan and I spent virtually the entire day at the hospital clinic. It was bone chilling cold outside; cold, windy and rainy, three of the primary ingredients strictly excluded from his daily lifestyle prescription. When it is my turn to be accompany this little man, days like this are maddening. Fortunately, he is feeling better, and therefore impatient and eager enough to pursue fun things unattainable on days like this.Continue Reading →
“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.” – Richard Bach
Three weeks ago. November 2, 20011. Augusta, GA.
“Hey, Turner-san. Colleen (Dr. McDonough) and I just talked. It’s time to move this boy to Memphis.”
Silence.Continue Reading →
“A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes”
I guess we were expecting Brennan to catch a bug sooner or later. While endeavoring to plug as many holes in the bubble as we could, the bottom line is that: a) he’s a kid; b) it is approaching winter; and people are spreading germs left-and-right; and, c) the new immune system was bound to be put to a test someday.Continue Reading →
Tuesday morning, October 4 2011 was my day with Brennan. We awoke early with the rest of the gang, helping Christopher and Nat getting with their breakfast (a la Tara’s usual pre-school chocolate-chip pancake recipe) and ready for school. These days Brennan is feeling pretty good, serving as the attache to whichever parent is leading the morning charge.Continue Reading →
“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” – unknown author
It was a dream, thank God. All five of us were in a white cottage at the base of a mountain. It was a huge mountain range under a cornflower blue sky. This was not western North Carolina. We all walked from the back door and hiked to the top, where there was another cottage. Brennan, for some reason, stayed behind. …read moreContinue Reading →
“Oh, don’t go too far
Stay who you are
You only live a day
But it’s brilliant anyway
I saw you in a perfect place
It’s going to happen soon but not today
So go to sleep and make the change
I’ll meet you here tomorrow
The waning hours of Independence Day, 2011. All three of our boys were upstairs watching “Evan Almighty.” Intuited from the occasional thumps and giggles from the bedroom floor above us, there was more taking place than a DVD. read moreContinue Reading →
“The primary function of miracles is not to shock the senses but to bring revelation to grant us a glimpse of the divine and through that glimpse the opportunity to be transformed.”
From a book I picked up at Robin Smithwick’s house.
It was my night to stay with Brenny. Tara and I had spent most of the day rifling through every nook of the Bluff House in preparation for sorting, packing and gradually shipping our lives back to Augusta.Continue Reading →
posted on CarePages June13, 2011 Major General Urquhart: Hancock. “I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?” Corporal Hancock: “Couldn’t hurt,…Continue Reading →