each day as it comes, Bree Brown and her family have spent the last 85
days working through new challenges, new emotions, and new ways of
“We make everything day-by-day,” said Jennifer
Brown, Bree’s mother. “We’re  days into this. Sometimes, it feels
like we’ve been only a couple of days.”
days ago, just one month before Bree Brown’s 13th birthday, she woke up
in pain that she initially shrugged off as the way she slept the night
before. But as the day progressed, the pain turned out to be more than
just sleeping in an awkward position. This pain was radiating around to
her abdomen and could not be diminished by walking or stretching, so her
parents took her the emergency room at Floyd Memorial Hospital.
was Thanksgiving weekend. We went to Bailen’s game [Bree’s brother],
and she couldn’t sit on the bleachers,” Jennifer Brown said.
Brown had a CT scan at the emergency room that night. She walked in
thinking the pain was from muscle and nerve pain, but she walked out
finding out that she had tumors on her hip and spine.
“They were 99 percent sure it was cancer,” Jennifer Brown said.
before going to the emergency department that night, Bree Brown had
been in pain from time to time. Because Brown has a love of dance and
enjoys jumping on the family’s trampoline, her doctors believed the pain
stemmed from when Brown fell in the kitchen practicing dance moves.
But, the hip pain came with have occasional low-grade fevers, so the
doctors had some additional laboratory and x-rays done to help make a
As a couple of months passed by with
laboratory and x-ray results coming back normal, Brown continued to have
more bone pain and began losing weight. The doctors diagnosed her with
piriformis syndrome, where the muscle in the buttocks aggravates sciatic
nerve in the lower back. Brown had to go to physical therapy and do
some stretching activities to help alleviate the pain.
“Piriformis syndrome is very similar to the cancer,” Jennifer Brown said.
Three days after going to the emergency room that Thanksgiving weekend, Bree Brown was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, stage four.
sarcoma, a type of cancerous tumor that appears in the bones or in the
tissue around the bones, is the second most common type of bone cancer
in children. However, Ewing sarcoma is still very rare as only 200
children and young adults are diagnosed each year in the United States,
according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
days after her diagnosis, Brown began chemotherapy. She will continue
to have chemotherapy and radiation treatments for several weeks. The
treatments ravage the body in order to destroy the fast-growing
cancerous cells, leaving her normal, healthy cells damaged. The side
effects can result in mouth sores, nausea, fatigue, hair loss, and
anemia — just to name a few.
“We remain positive and strong,” Jennifer Brown said.
her diagnosis, Bree Brown receives inpatient chemotherapy every other
week. During the week of Christmas and her 13th birthday, she received a
cycle of the chemotherapy drugs while in the hospital for the holidays.
While the medication waged a toll on Brown’s body, her spirits were
lifted when Academy Award-winning actress and Louisville native Jennifer
Lawrence visited Kosair Children’s Hospital, where Brown was receiving
treatment. Lawrence stopped by Brown’s room and signed a few autographs
and posed for a picture with Brown.
“[Bree] was really
excited about that,” Jennifer Brown said. “It was the only good day she
had at the hospital. She was really sick.”
the chemotherapy, the doctors performed a stem cell harvest on Brown in
order to save her stem cells in case she needs them in the future.
her cancer not respond to chemo or return later, this will enable them
to safely give her higher doses of chemo. Higher doses of chemo could
potentially deplete her white blood cells,” Jennifer Brown said. “If
that happened, they could transplant her own white blood cells. It’s
almost like an insurance policy.”
In addition to the
chemotherapy treatments and stem cell harvest, Bree Brown will travel to
Texas to meet with a surgeon to see if possible remove the tumors.
“The only surefire way to beat it is to remove it,” Jennifer Brown said.
Brown and her mother will spend three to four weeks in Texas in hopes
of reducing the risk of recurrence through surgery. If recurrence
occurs, the survival rate significantly diminishes.
a 15-hour, 1,000-mile trip to Texas and a stay for a few weeks, the
trip comes as a costly expense to the family. The family only has one
income as Jennifer Brown had to take unpaid leave from her job in order
to help care for Bree Brown. They will use some of the money raised
online and through fundraisers to help offset the costs of meals, fuel,
accommodations, and medications.
“The community has
been incredibly supportive. We’ve had so many people reach out over the
past couple of months wanting to help in any way possible whether it be a
prayer, hug, chemo care package, gift card or monetary contribution,”
Jennifer Brown said. “These gifts have been extremely helpful as I am
off on an unpaid leave right now. It’s help offset the loss of income
and enable us to provide for Bree. We know we are not alone in this
Through all the challenges, emotions, and
adjustments, Bree Brown and her family have found support and solace in
her school and in her community.
“The school district
has been excellent! I cannot say enough good things about SCSD2. Bree
loves school. I knew when she was diagnosed that she would be devastated
about not being able to go to school anymore and she was,” Jennifer
Brown said. “I can remember calling Ms. Nass from the hospital, in tears
and feeling hopeless. She comforted me and assured me they would help
Bree get through this difficult time. Mrs. Lohr and Mrs. Mullins come
out to the house to do home instruction with Bree. They are very
“The school district has been equally
supportive with Bree’s older brother, Bailen. He’s a freshman. The
teachers worked with Bailen on catching up his work. The basketball team
offered tremendous support to both Bailen and our entire family.”
Scottsburg Middle School, Bree Brown’s seventh-grade classmates and
other students have helped raise money for the family through the Bows
for Bree campaign. Students bought purple and white polka-dot hair bows
in honor of Bree and snapped a few pictures to send to her. They also
created a card quilt, sold T-shirts, sent in care packages, and made
videos to show their support.
“The middle school
created special videos for Bree at Christmas time wishing her a Merry
Christmas and a happy 13th birthday too! That really lightened her mood
because we were in the hospital over Christmas and she was very sick
from the chemo,” Jennifer Brown said. “Numerous clubs/departments have
collected money for her including student council, the girls basketball
team, the choir, art club, and the boys high school basketball team.”
Bree Brown’s 13th birthday, the students at SMS and people from all
over the United States and the world sent Brown birthday cards in the
mail. While she was not feeling well after the most recent round of
chemotherapy, Brown was able to go through the cards sent to her.
perks her up. She pulls one out and reads it. She has received cards
from about every state and from Germany, Japan, and Canada. She has
about 700 cards maybe,” Jennifer Brown said. “We’re planning a big party
when she start feeling better.”
Each day, Bree
Brown’s courage, kindness, beauty, and strength shines through
everything she does; she is #breestrong. At Scott County School District
2, Brown’s story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.
send Bree Brown well wishes, mail a card to Bree Brown, P.O. Box 609,
Scottsburg, IN 47170. To follow her story online, visit the Facebook
group, Blessings for Bree, and request to join. To send a financial
gift, visit her GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/breebrown