As a freshman in high school, Brenna attributed her sudden fatigue and occasional headaches to everything that comes along with being a teen: a hard day at school, an exhausting softball practice, anything but what was really going on.
“I was brought to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms and a bad headache,” said Brenna. “By the time I was brought back I didn’t know who I was and was speaking gibberish."
Doctors diagnosed Brenna with leukemia, and soon after discovered a tumor created by a leukemia blast. She went into surgery days later, on her dad’s 50th birthday.
“They completely removed my tumor, and then I had five rounds of chemo with each round lasting 4-6 weeks long, all done inpatient.”
For Brenna, a bright spot during this time, was planning her wish.
“We found out about Make-A-Wish® Oregon during my first round of chemo, through my child life specialist,” said Brenna. "She came in and told me about it, and I was really excited because I’m like, ‘this year is going to be horrible, but if I can have a wish, it’s going to make it a lot better,’” said Brenna. “It gave me something to look forward to.”
The teen knew in her heart the one thing she wanted more than anything else was to go to Hawaii with her family.
“I love everything tropical, I love to swim, I love sea life, it was the perfect wish,” said Brenna. "My first kiss was with a dolphin, not everyone gets to say that!"
The trip also marked a turning point in her fight with cancer.
“Going after I was sick felt amazing, I didn’t have to worry about anything,” said Brenna. “We hadn’t gone on a vacation of that magnitude before and it was nice just to be able to go and be a normal kid again. Also, being with my brother was awesome, cause he’s going to college soon.”
The experience left a lasting impact on Brenna's life, and strengthened her family moving forward. Now, two years later, the 16-year-old is thriving.
"I'm cancer free and living my best life," said Brenna.
"I’ve met a lot of people along my journey, who have had a wish, and they always talk about how much fun they had and how much better they felt after they went, and all the experiences they got to have, and how much they miss it cause they just want to go back," said the teen.
"I’m glad that Make-A-Wish can give kids like me something to look forward to, it brings hope.”
Brenna is a Make-A-Wish Oregon Wish Ambassador who wants to Wish It Forward to other children in our community by sharing her story. To support wish kids like Brenna, CLICK HERE.