A Tribute to Brooke Milander
I’m not really sure where to begin. How can I even attempt to sum up the awesomeness of Brooke Milander in one article? Yet here I am writing, so those of you who didn’t know Brooke can have an insight into her beauty, and so those of you who did know her can smile as her memory continues to impact lives.
I first connected with Brooke on January 13, 2010. She’d had her thyroidectomy a few months prior and was getting ready for a treatment dose of radioactive iodine. She was sixteen years old, but was dealing with the combination of cancer and high school beautifully. How she handled herself with such grace, I’ll never know.
Brooke and I had this instant connection that I think only fellow thyroid cancer survivors can understand. She and I weren’t really close in age (I was 8 years older) and we didn’t have a ton of similar interests, but as young adults with cancer, we shared a bond that we didn’t share with anyone else. Before either of us had scans or tests or doctors appointments, we could send one short text message and the other person would “get it.” We didn’t have to explain the emotions we were feeling because we both just knew how the other was feeling.
Brooke was such a special young woman. She was so full of life. She loved all things Disney (especially Alice in Wonderland!), Johnny Depp, Lady Gaga, Kurt Cobain, Jared Leto…really the list could go on for days. She was so creative and dreamed of breaking into the film industry after college. She would have been so successful. Brooke was such a compassionate soul and genuinely cared about others. Any time she and I talked, she always asked about my life and showed so much excitement as things were going so well for me. She found a way to be happy about the good things although she was in the midst of such hardship.
In the unfairness that is life, my cancer mostly died off while Brooke’s continued to grow and spread. She bravely endured radioactive iodine, external beam radiation, multiple surgeries, and multiple types of chemotherapy. On July 26, 2012, Brooke Milander passed away at the young age of 19. Cancer is what caused Brooke’s death, but cancer did not win. Brooke will continue to impact lives. She inspires me to live my life to the fullest every single day and I will always carry her memory with me. So today, when you get out of bed, remember Brooke. When you’re faced with something hard, remember Brooke. When you feel too tired to keep going, remember Brooke. And still, when life seems to be going your way, remember Brooke. Remember her fighting spirit, her compassion, her fervor for life. Remember her and seize this day.
“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” -Alexander Woolcott
All my love,