Tonight my heart is sad. It seems lately my eyes have cried too many tears. My soul weeps yet again. Cancer has won one more battle. Heaven has opened it’s gates to another young angel. For a little more then 17 months a small boy courageously battled the enemy within him, a rare form of cancer, embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. Early on the morning of May 5, 2011, as the stars shone brightly, before the sun rose, his war ceased, his life on this earth ended, a boy of undeniable courage earned his eternal wings.
I never met Brennan Daigle but I followed his battle against cancer on facebook and through the news. I learned his favorite bible verse is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Few men exhibit the strength and courage Brennan demonstrated as a young child.
Brennan’s fight began on October 5, 2009 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the Texas Children’s Hospital. Brennan wrote on his facebook page when he heard the news “I was scared, upset, sad and angery”. He put his fears aside and went about battling this heinous disease. He endured endless bouts of chemotherapy and radiation, yet cancer did not stop Brennan from doing all the things he loved. He played with his friends, he went fishing, hunting, played x-box and loved all things Army. October 12, 2010, a little over a year from his first diagnosis Brennan and his family learned his tumor was still growing and had mutated. Cancer was invading his body, but it would not penetrate his soul. He continued to combat the enemy within him. His faith never wavered. He vowed to spread the word of God, so others could see his grace, witness his faith and be inspired by his courage. As part of his mission Brennan started a facebook page. With over 44,000 fans, facebook allowed a young boy from Westlake, Louisiana to inspire countless others here and abroad. His fans would never meet Brennan but they will also never forget him.
On February 10. 2011, in a small doctor’s office, Brennan and his mom were told his battle was coming to a close, there was nothing more modern medicine could do for him. He was sent home to spend the last few weeks of his life with his family. I cried an unbelievable amount of tears when I read as they were leaving the doctors office Brennan questioned his mom, “I won’t see you everyday?” I know death can be unkind and unjust but no mother should ever have to tell their child they are going to die. No parent should ever have to bury their son or daughter. That was the inevitable future that laid before his mother, Kristy Daigle. Ever true to their faith his mom assured Brennan he would be okay, he would be with his grandmother in Heaven, he would be with Jesus. His family would join him one day. The doctors gave Brennan two weeks to live. Cancer and his doctors did not fully comprehend how strong Brennan truly was.
The strength and faith of a child can not be matched by any pharmaceutical. Brennan would battle on, he would not stay home, wait to die, he would continue to live. He continued to go to school. He wanted to be with his friends, he wanted a normal life for as long as possible. One of Brennan’s wishes was to spend his final days not with a celebrity, not with a sports star but with the men and women of our armed services. The soldiers who fight for our freedom, they were his heros. On February 26, 2011, more than 40 soldiers from the 1st MEB of Fort Polk stood at attention as Brennan arrived at the Chateau du Bon Reve (Castle of Good Dreams) to celebrate his tenth birthday. Every soldier shook his hand as he passed through the formation, each realizing although they had just returned from war, this 10 year old little boy had more courage than any combat veteran. Brennan was inducted as an honorary member of the U.S. Army National Guard. He was awarded a jacket, a coin that represents excellence and merit, and a set of dog tags. One with his name, the other dog tag with the seven values of the U.S. Army; Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Service. Brennan was also given a key to the city of Sulphur, Louisiana and made an Honorary Mayor for the day. One of the many highlights of his birthday, when Brennan and his best friend Kaleb were given a ride in a real army Humvee. Many said it was a perfect birthday for a ten year old little boy.
For me it wasn’t perfect, perfect would be Brennan’s eleventh birthday, twentieth, fortieth, seventieth birthday. Brennan unfortunately represents a sad fact, cancer is the number one killer of children. Cancer knows no age barrier, it is a disease of the old and sadly the young. In 2007 approximately 10,400 children were diagnosed with cancer, of those more than 1500 died from the disease. The number may seem low to some, but what if your child was one of the 1500? One is too large a number!
We fall in love, we give birth, we raise our families. We grow old watching our children marry and give birth to our grandchildren. Our children repeat the cycle of life, so shall their children. That is the way we are taught life should be, but Brennan Daigle is a reminder that wonderful cycle of life is not a reality for all families. Brennan like the more than 1500 children who will die from cancer this year, lost his battle, lost his future when he succumbed to cancer in the early morning hours of May 5, 2011.
Brennan will never go to high school, he will never have a girl friend, experience the wonderful excitement of his first kiss. There will never be a prom for Brennan. He will never go to college, he will never marry. His parents, Albert and Kristy will never hold his children in their arms. His sister Lauren, will no longer have a baby brother to hug. She can not text message or call Brennan when she needs to talk like brothers and sisters often do. She will have to look to the Heavens to see him, hear him, feel him. Brennan had an unbelievable strength as he battled cancer, now his family must echo his strength and learn to live with out him.
The lesson from Brennan: from time to time we all have bouts of self pity, for one reason or another. When that moment arises, when you think life is way too hard visit Brennan’s facebook page and remember his story. Rummage through his photos. No matter what cancer threw at Brennan he fought back, he never gave up, lost faith. A month after he was told he was going to die you can see the joy in him when a brigade from the Texas Lonestar Chapter of Pink Heals led by a pink camo army truck arrived in front of his house. The restored army truck presented to Brennan as a memorial for his battle against cancer. Even when the tumor in his brain and the medication caused his face to swell and he could no longer smile, he would not give up. Brennan would take his finger and hold a smile in place for the camera. Four days before he died Brennan attended Brayden’s Dream Day to show support for another child battling cancer. This small wonderful ten year old boy, never lost his faith, never lost his compassion, never lost his courage. Brennan fought til the end and never once felt sorry for himself. So on those horrible days when life seems it’s darkest, understand and rejoice in the message Brennan was teaching all of us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Brennan Diagle “At Ease” your battle is over, it is your time to rejoice with the Lord.