Her Story: Chrissy Percy

Chrissy Percy On How Her Family Overcame Childhood Cancer

I always say that of all the things I’ll ever do in my lifetime, being a mother to my kids will always be my biggest accomplishment. As a little girl, I dreamed about my fairytale wedding and named my babydolls, thinking those would be my kids’ names someday. While the fairytale I had once envisioned wouldn’t turn out so dreamy, I had two beautiful babies despite the heartache. Brooklyn was born first. She was tiny but fierce. About 15 months later, I had the smiliest baby boy named Cruz.

I found myself a single mom with two babies who were perfect in every way – healthy and so full of life. 

her story | chrissy percy

Fast forward to August 1, 2021. We were headed to a family vacation in Florida when Brooklyn started to complain that her stomach hurt. I wasn’t too concerned because she was never sick, and I thought it was maybe car sickness. As the day went on, she got worse. She wouldn’t eat and felt like she was going to pass out. I wondered if she got a stomach bug from camp.

By the time we checked into our rental, Brooklyn was having trouble standing. I was grateful for my sister, Sarah, who is a nurse, for monitoring Brooklyn and trying to give her medicine. After Brooklyn tried to lay in bed she told me, “Mom, something is really bad and wrong with me, and you are going to have to take me to the hospital.”

She was only 6 years old. I knew something was wrong and drove an hour with my mom to take Brooklyn to the nearest hospital. We were told the pediatric ER had just closed and we may be sitting there for two hours. Brooklyn was throwing up and I was devastated. But as we turned away, a nurse called Brooklyn’s name.

They started an IV immediately and took her in for a CT scan.

Afterward, the doctor came in and told us without warning that Brooklyn had cancer. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the words he was saying. He said that Brooklyn was presenting with typhlitis, and it was critical. The next morning, she was airlifted to Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, FL. My now brother-in-law and sister drove me almost four hours to get me to the hospital.

There, Brooklyn was officially diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This started our cancer journey. We never questioned God; we just went with it.

After about a week in the hospital, we moved into the Ronald McDonald Home of Gainesville. There have been so many full circle moments in our journey, and this was one. My sorority’s philanthropy was the RMDH, and I have raised money for years for this nonprofit. We were now the ones that needed a room.

I became Brooklyn’s nurse, giving her exact doses of medications and helping her bathe. She began getting chemo at least three times a week in the clinic. The doctors would always say when they saw Brooklyn and then saw her chart it was like two different kids. She blew their minds away.

Things were going well until 28 days later. We had just spent a great day going to the zoo, but the next thing, I looked over and Brooklyn’s eyes were rolling in the back of her head. I immediately took her to the ER. They ran samples of her blood and did an ultrasound but didn’t find anything and wanted to send her home. I wasn’t comfortable leaving and wanted answers.

We finally got into a room around 2 a.m., where a nurse thankfully believed me when I said Brooklyn’s heart was beating fast and something was wrong. She couldn’t get a pulse and I heard all the beeping and alarms. I honestly thought I was losing Brooklyn. The nurse left and came back with a whole team. They asked if I wanted to stay in the room and I just couldn’t. I found the nearest empty room and dropped to the floor, crying out to God to save her. I saw them roll Brooklyn by, and I thought she was gone. I couldn’t breathe, and my heart was shattering.

A few minutes later, they grabbed me. Brooklyn had been rushed to PICU because she had gone into septic shock. She had a bowel perforation and required emergency surgery. They didn’t expect her to live, and if she did, she would be in the PICU for months. But Brooklyn was a fighter. She came out of surgery and remained intubated.

In the PICU, Brooklyn had around-the-clock care. This is where I developed PTSD. Every beep and alarm would scare me, making me think something bad was happening. Sometimes I wouldn’t sleep for days. But again, Brooklyn shocked everyone and was able to go to the hospital floor only two days later. They thought she would still be there for a few months, but Brooklyn was determined to get home. After all, we were missing Cruz and our family so much. We finally got to make the trek back home two weeks later. We were so grateful to be back with the community who rallied behind us.

her story | chrissy percy

Cancer didn’t stop once we got back home. Brooklyn began her roadmap of treatment for the next two and a half years: she had a port placed in her chest, used an ileostomy bag, lost her hair (and rocked that bald head proudly), and missed first grade. Brooklyn was all about her care. She cleaned her stoma and placed her bag and was aware of all her chemo meds. Brooklyn finished treatment and rang the bell, cancer free, on December 28, 2023.

Brooklyn is the strongest, bravest kid I know. She has taught me so much about life and what truly is important. Cruz really thought Brooklyn was going to pass away. One day, she said in the most honest, kindest voice, “Bubby, if I was going to die, I would have already died. Jesus healed me and I am here for a purpose.” Talk about perspective and priorities!

No one ever wants to hear the word cancer, and no one should ever walk this journey alone. I got instantly connected to Lana’s Love Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Jennifer Greer is a patient advocate for Lana’s Love who took our family on and poured into us. She would come sit with Brooklyn on hard days or just to enjoy a craft. If I had a need she would cover it. She even orchestrated my son getting a mentor. She literally walks every step with us. She sees us in our weakest, hardest times and rejoices in the happiest of moments. Everyone needs a Jennifer in their life.

Jennifer also hosts a mom’s support group at her house. This group has been such an encouragement. We laugh, we cry, and we share our stories. We listen, hug, and offer sincere love for each momma. We all share a common bond now. We are warrior mommas!

her story | chrissy percy

The Austin Hatcher Foundation (AHF) has also come alongside us on this journey. I am so grateful for this organization who offers everything to us at no cost and for life. The counseling for all of us has been so beneficial. They love my kids and myself so well. The kids are usually there once a week and always ask when they will get to go again.

Lastly, I could not have walked this journey without my faith. I am reminded of a verse from Isaiah 66:13, “As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you.” If it weren’t for people praying for us around the world, I don’t know how I would have made it. I am so thankful to my friends who set up a GoFundMe, all those who donated, our community who poured into us, our church, and my family who never left us.

Back in the hospital during our first stay, the father of a very sick girl said something so profound in the snack area. He said, “Everything you have done your whole life has prepared you for this journey.” I walked away thinking of everything I had done in my life. It was true, I could think of very specific events in my life that prepared me for this journey.

Brooklyn is now 9, playing softball, running, playing, baking, singing, and going to church. She is so full of life! Cruz is the best little brother. I am now on my own healing journey, working with a trauma counselor along with the counselor from AHF.

While cancer doesn’t define Brooklyn, or even our family, it is a journey we have walked. She beat it and she taught me to overcome it!

Chrissy Percy, Chattanooga

her story | chrissy percy

Get access to the next issue before it hits the stands!