Faith, family help Brooks fight leukemia
Reynoldsburg resident Jada Hightower Brooks underwent a bone marrow transplant May 8 to treat the leukemia that was first diagnosed in 2007. With her are her husband, Larry, (center) and children Julian Hightower, Jordan Brooks, Justin Brooks, Cameron Brooks and Kennedy Brooks.
Reynoldsburg resident Jada Brooks gathered her five children around her hospital bed on Mother's Day instead of around her kitchen table.
Brooks, 41, has been fighting leukemia for six years. She had a bone marrow transplant May 8 and will likely spend at least six weeks in the hospital, said her husband, Larry Brooks.
The children -- Julian Hightower, Jordan Brooks, Justin Brooks, Cameron Brooks and Kennedy Brooks -- range in age from 20 to 2, and all are eager to have "Mommy" back home again.
"It's hard to say how the kids are taking all of this," Mr. Brooks said. "You can tell our oldest is more moody and it seems to bother him more, but it is the younger boys who keep asking when Mommy is coming home."
He said the toddler is their only little girl.
"Her birth is what led to the bone marrow transplant," he said. "We were made aware that cord blood could be beneficial, and although we did not have enough cord blood for Jada, the hospital was able to use our child's cord blood and then searched their data bank to find a match for Jada."
Doctors had at first decided a bone marrow transplant was too risky, after Mrs. Brooks was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in January 2007.
Mr. Brooks said his wife was taking a number of chemotherapy drugs over the past six years, but they would work only for a period of time.
"After further gene testing, it was determined that Jada had a rare mutation that made her resistant to the treatments," he said.
He said the bone marrow transplant "went well."
"She seemed almost like herself yesterday," he said. "They have to monitor her blood count numbers and we know there will be days she will not feel well."
The family has a "Go Fund Me" page, called "Team Jada versus Leukemia," where friends and people who want to help may contribute to covering the escalating cost of medical bills, at gofundme.com/teamjada.
Mr. Brooks posted an update on his wife's condition there on Mother's Day.
"She is doing well," he wrote. "By the grace of God, she has only had a couple of bad days thus far. Today the children and I visited Jada for Mother's Day. She was also visited by her mother, nephew and two of her brothers. This brightened her day and made it a memorable Mother's Day."
There is also an open group Facebook Page called "Team Jada."
Mrs. Brooks posted an entry on that page herself on Saturday, May 11.
"I just wanted to let everyone know how grateful I am for your overwhelming show of support, prayers and love," she said. "God has shown up in a mighty way. I know this is my cross to bear and it can go a number of ways. However, I'm certain that because of your prayers, I couldn't be any more blessed."
Mr. Brooks said he and his family have participated in Leukemia and Lymphoma Society events over the years, such as the night walks. He said his wife is "very strong."
"Our faith keeps us going," he said. "We believe that there is a reason for everything and that whatever we are going through is a part of the plan and it will end up OK. We have our love for each other and a lot of love within the family."
He said Reynoldsburg City Schools' teachers and administrators "have been very supportive."
"There were times when Jada wasn't feeling well and it was hard for her to get the kids to school on time," he said. "The teachers have been very supportive during all of this and I want to thank them for that support."