Dear Cancer: You picked the wrong family to mess with.
This is the message that mum A.J. Brown has for cancer, which not only almost ended the life of her six-year-old daughter, Finley, but now has left the mum fighting her own battle with the deadly disease.
For the past year A.J.’s life has revolved around Finley’s battle against cancer. She has watched her daughter lose her hair, undergo extensive therapies and fight for her life after being diagnosed with kidney cancer in June 2015.
She has spent every night praying to God and begging, “Please let it be me, please let it be me”.
It would appear cancer listened and proved, that while lightening may not strike twice, cancer certainly does.
After a check-up with her doctor, just four short months after Finley had completed her last chemotherapy treatment and successfully beat her cancer, A.J. was diagnosed with melanoma, a deadly skin cancer.
Once again, the family was spiralled back into a sea of surgery, treatment and worry. And, once again, the Browns refused to give up without a fight.
“At first, the news didn’t make any sense,” A.J. tells TODAY. “I thought, we’re done — my family has had its share.”
While A.J. admits that she spent the first day or two feeling angry and scared, she soon let go of the mad part.
“I realised, it’s me, that’s fine,” A.J. recalls. “As long as I don’t have to watch my kids go through this.”
A.J. uses Facebook as a way to connect to other parents struggling with childhood cancer through a Dear Cancer column. In a recent post, A.J. wrote, “You’re patient, I’ll give you that. You waited until we were just starting to feel safe and whole again. Then you made your move… But guess what? You forgot what family you were messing with.”
Cancer can knock anyone down, especially a child, but Finley refused to let it and her mum is taking the same approach the second time around. A.J. recently had surgery to remove the cancer from her leg.
“One week after her treatments ended, [Finley] started kindergarten and dance classes and Girl Scouts and soccer — she just went all in, at her own insistence,” says Brown, who works at the California Academy of Performing Arts and also has a younger son, Cooper, with her husband Aaron.
The six-year-old’s experience has not only given her physical strength, but she is also compassionate and understanding, especially when it comes to watching someone she loves in a fight she knows all too well.
“I want you to try your best,” Finley told her mum in a recent interview. “And if you fall, I’ll help you get up and just keep on going.”
The number of children diagnosed with cancer each and every year is devastating. While Finley Brown may be one of the children who won her battle with cancer, millions of children do not.
Please, take the time to send well wishes to all the families who are battling with childhood cancer and, if you have the funds, donate to a foundation such as Red Kite to help the fight against this horrible disease.