Imagine you were just told that your 7-year-old daughter had only days to live. Imagine you received this news right before Christmas - a time of year that is normally filled with joy and laughter. This is exactly what happened to Jennifer and Jeremiah Brown this week when the team who had been treating their daughter, Delaney (“Laney”), told them there was nothing more they could do.
In May 2013, Laney was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with monosomy 7, an extremely rare form of the disease. Each year only about 10 children in the United States get diagnosed with this form of cancer. To ensure Laney received the best possible treatment, she was a patient at Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pa., most of the time since her diagnosis. This has been a challenging time for Laney, her parents and her siblings – Jacob and Kylee.
Team Laney established a Facebook page which quickly grew to over 20,000 followers, as members of Laney’s community rallied around her and her family. Laney’s Facebook family has been watching the ups and downs of her treatment from the beginning – all the while praying for a cure. Supporters witnessed the roller-coaster ride of emotions the family went through and sent messages of encouragement every day. Yesterday, this community was shocked when the post came through that everyone dreaded. The Browns had received the worst possible news from the medical team at Hershey – Laney had 70 percent cancer cells in her blood and a virus that was untreatable. If the medical team chose to treat the cancer, the virus would kill her. And if they tried to treat the virus, the cancer would kill her. Jennifer and Jeremiah heard the words no parent ever wants to hear, “We’re sorry. There is nothing we can do.” An outpouring of sympathy went out in the cyberworld. Though many people cannot possibly imagine what the Browns must be feeling, many hearts are breaking over the realization of Laney’s prognosis.
Laney is now preparing to come home for hospice care. As difficult as that is, Jennifer and Jeremiah are trying to make the best of Laney’s last days and Laney has comprised a “bucket list” of sorts. She has already been visited by caretakers and animals from Zoo America. Her community is planning a Christmas caroling event for Saturday Dec. 21 because Laney would love to see carolers one last time. Her other big wish is to meet Taylor Swift and the community is working hard to make this happen. Tweets and posts are being made in an effort to get the attention of Swift in hopes that she will make a visit to her hometown to make a young girl’s dying wish come true.
This story is truly a remarkable representation of the spirit of giving – the real meaning of the season. Hopefully Laney will have her wish granted and Swift will be among the thousands expected to be singing Christmas carols through the streets of West Reading, Pa. this Saturday evening.
To learn more about Laney and her story, visit Team Laney's Facebook page or the Team Laney website.
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