Howdy. I’m Hannah. I’m part of a tribe that is rallying behind Brooke Clay Taylor. She’s been a great friend to me and so many others. More than that, she’s been an advocate for others in need, time and time again, even starting a GoFundMe for me and my family following the wake of Hurricane Harvey—now it’s my turn to help the Taylors.
If you've never met this sweet family, let me set the stage: It's Monday, July 22nd, and Brooke is tracking at 38 weeks pregnant when she receives a call from a breast health surgeon telling her that the lump she had asked about during a routine appointment to check on her baby just four days earlier was exactly what Brooke and her husband Damon had feared — cancer.
The Taylors, who live in a remote part of Oklahoma where Damon is a wildlife refuge manager, jumped in the car to make the hour-plus drive to Tulsa. In a turn of events she never expected, Brooke would check into the hospital to have a c-section and then immediately meet with her oncologist to begin strategizing and scheduling tests that couldn’t be done before her baby was born. Elsie James Taylor (whose sex was the second, and much better, surprise of the day!) was born at 2:04 p.m. on July 22nd at 6 lbs, 2 oz.
Brooke is a new mom first and a cancer patient second, but this is where it gets tough — rather than being home with Elsie and recovering from the unplanned major surgery that brought her baby girl into the world as part of a maternity leave, Brooke is faced with near-daily back-to-back appointments and consults and an incalculable number of 3-hour roundtrips to Tulsa as the new family of three charts the road ahead.
They’re not wasting time, because they don’t have time to waste. Just seven days after Elsie was born, Brooke received her first dose of radiation which meant that after 39 weeks together, 38 of them literally connected, she had to spend 24 hours completely isolated from Elsie due to the risks from the radiation. If you’re a parent — a mom, especially — try to imagine that. I can’t.
While the Taylors are being showered with hand-me-downs and diapers and formula (Brooke’s plans to breastfeed were crushed by the diagnosis – another enormous blow), the logistical person in me is thinking about roundtrips to Tulsa, the co-pays and deductibles, the meals on the go, the nights/weeks where Brooke will have to stay in a hotel due to radiation or inability to drive following chemotherapy — and the list goes on. On top of it all, Brooke is a small business owner whose work involves significant amounts of travel all over the country — something she won’t be able to do while she undergoes treatment. The logistics are going to get tough. But we can help.
Brooke and Damon are careful budgeters. They are humbled by the outpouring of support they’ve received, and after some arm-twisting, they agreed to let me set this up. They want you to know they will keep meticulous records on how they are spending any money given to them and that if there are any funds left over they will go to the next new momma who is diagnosed with this disease — because that's the kind of people they are. They are some of the good ones, y’all. Join me in supporting Brooke, Damon, and Baby Elsie James and saying #KByeCancer.