Cameron Park Couple touched by leukemia work to make a difference
Jennifer Brenner, a working mother of two and her husband Mark, a Folsom City Police Officer are competing to raise money for leukemia. Jennifer shared her story with me…
My mother was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia when she was 28 years old. This rare form of leukemia could only be cured with a bone marrow transplant. Everyone in our family was tested to be a match, but to no avail. After 3 years of medication, we knew she would die without a transplant. In April of 1985, we got the call that a donor had been found for her. Within two days my sister and I were re-routed to live with friends and she and my step-dad were on their way to Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. This was a 9 story facility with a total of 17 patients and the rest was cancer research.
By the time I got there in June, I was so anxious to see her, I missed her so much and I just wanted to hug her!
She had been through her transplant and I was warned about what I would see, but nothing can prepare a child to their mother in that condition. Her skin had been scrubbed off to remove the skin deadened by the radiation and those areas were covered with pig skin so it could harden and allow new skin to generate without infection. She was in a special bed to stimulate new skin growth. Her hair was gone, she had cataracts and she was severely bloated. After waiting for two months to see her, when I walked into her room for the first time, the next thing I remember was waking up on the floor.
By the end of June, we were informed she would be moved into a regular hospital bed on a Saturday and start walking around the hospital on Monday. This was our huge milestone moment and we knew she was going to live.
On Saturday, after she was moved into her hospital bed she started coughing and couldn’t stop. At some point she started hallucinating. By Monday, she was in a coma. I can remember the doctors calling a meeting with our family telling us her body had rejected the new bone marrow and she was going to die.
After the meeting I asked to be alone with her. I was trying to be brave but was crying so hard I could barely speak. I reached out to hold her hand, and never realized she would never again reach out to hold mine. I rubbed her hand on my face and I managed to tell her that she was going to die. She had been so sick for so long, I wanted her to know it was ok to let go.
By Wednesday, the mom I watched MTV on Friday nights with, the mom I rocked out to Foreigner with, the mom I rode around in a VW van sporting a “ROCKMOM” license plate with, the mom who made Christmas happen, the mom who made me feel loved, the mom who brought balance to my world became one of God’s most beautiful and vibrant angels.
I don’t know how big an 11 year old heart is, but it is definitely not big enough to endure that kind of pain. I always had intentions of embracing a cause for leukemia in her honor, but after her death our family was destroyed. I could not bring myself to do anything except try to live every day without a mother.
As fate would have it, in April of 2007, I was forwarded an email at work about a baby in need of a bone marrow transplant, his name was Baby Trevor. Finally this was the push I needed to get in the bone marrow registry and get active with the fight against leukemia.
A bone marrow drive was being held at my kids’ elementary school, just 5 blocks from my house. As I stood in the long line of eager folks with the same intentions, I felt my heart get heavy. I was being flooded with emotion, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of a slide show of Trevor that was playing. I didn’t move, and waited for nearly an hour.
Baby Trevor inspired over 3800 people, internationally, to get registered in the bone marrow registry. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in time for little Trevor and he lost his battle when he was 6 months old.
Ironically, Baby Trevor lived in my area and my daughter is now in kindergarten with one of his sisters. My husband and I are teaming up with Trevor’s parents, Angela and Bob Kott in partnership with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (TNT) to run the Wildflower Triathlon in May of 2008.
We are competing in Trevor’s honor, and more personally for me I am also competing in honor of my mother. My mother’s friends once wrote about her “The only hope left for Teresa is that of society. Society can help give hope and life to Teresa, but will it? You can help, but will you?”
Mark and Jennifer have each made a personal commitment to raise $2900.00 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by April 18th. This is a total of $5800 between them, and it
can only be accomplished with the support of the public.
A tax deductible contribution can be made on-line through their official websites at:
When you donate online, you get the opportunity to have your name or business advertised as a supporter for this very important cause. Please be sure to take advantage of any charitable gift matching your company or employer might offer to double your money!
Alternatively, you can make a contribution by sending a check to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society listing Mark & Jennifer Brenner/TNT/Team Trevor in the memo line (to ensure your contribution gets allocated to their “bucket”) at 4604 Roseville Rd., Ste. 100 North Highlands, CA 95660.
After you donate, write to editor [at] newsblaze.com and claim your thank you from us – your choice of a classic movie download or a $100 press release coupon from NewsBlaze and Folsom Local News.
One dollar at a time, we can ALL make a difference.