Fernie girl to co-host Global’s Miracle Weekend Telethon
Tune in to Global BC this weekend and you might spot a familiar face. Fernie local Brooke Malakoff is co-hosting the BC Children's Hospital's Miracle Weekend Telethon.
It's going to be a jam-packed weekend for 19-year-old Brooke. She will be interviewed by Elaine Yong Thursday night, appear on the morning news with Steve Darling Friday morning, and act as a youth host for the telethon live from the BC Children's Hospital Saturday night.
Brooke is excited to spend her weekend of fame in Vancouver with her mom, Rochelle Simmons, and step-father, George Torresani.
“Instead of donating money we're kind of donating our time and our story; putting a face to what really goes on behind the scenes,” said Brooke.
Her mom Rochelle added, “For us, it was always one of my favourite weekends and I always donated when I could. Now, I financially can’t afford to donate, but we can afford to go and give back in other ways. This means so much to us.”
Brooke’s step-father George will also be participating in the telethon's Miracle Maker Panel Sunday afternoon.
Brooke was originally diagnosed with a benign tumour on her lung just before Christmas of 2011. Shortly after, Brooke's condition worsened and the tumour was re-diagnosed as malignant. She was flown to Vancouver for emergency surgery, and while she lost her left lung in the process, the operation was successful. Brooke returned home to Fernie to finish her last year of high school, but just a few short months later, she learned that her cancer had returned.
Brooke has spent the last few years undergoing treatment on and off at the BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver and in Cranbrook. But after undergoing DNA testing that suggested she try a new chemotherapy treatment, things are starting to look up.
“I had a rough patch with chemo last December, and then things got better,” explained Brooke. “I was able to take it and not feel sick, I was having hardly any symptoms, and hardly any side effects, and I was feeling great.”
Then came the best news Brooke had been given in a long time. Her most recent PET scan showed visible results.
“We finally found out that it's actually working!” said Brooke.
“We can look at the PET scan and actually see a difference,” commented Rochelle. “She's doing really well and we're continuing to see improvement.”
It was the light at the end of a long tunnel for Brooke and her family.
“Just over a year ago, we were basically told that this tumour would take Brooke's life,” Rochelle said. “We were grasping at straws. It was just a matter of prolonging her life, keeping her comfortable, and keep trying things.”
Brooke's step-father George chimed in, “The doctor said, I didn't expect you to be here today, but I am not quitting because you look so healthy still.”
And the good news just kept on coming.
“My doctor in Vancouver said, if you're feeling this well, and you continue to be doing this well, then you could probably be able to go back to work,” said Brooke. “That is huge, you know, just going back to being normal.”
Helping Brooke and the family achieve more normalcy was a one week trip to Greece last September thanks to Make a Wish Canada.
“That trip was so much what our family needed. It was just the four of us and it was wonderful, we just had a really good time bonding,” said Rochelle.
But the family remains cautious and realistic about Brooke's progress.
“For us, Brooke has cancer still. She takes chemo every day and there's always that constant reminder, but when you look at her and see how good she looks, we're just rolling with that right now,” remarked Rochelle. “We're getting there, we're learning to live again, but not forgetting that we still have to be careful in some senses.”
For the first time in two years, Brooke and her family are looking forward to a low key summer at home. And Brooke still has her eye on the future, which may include a degree in psychology.
“I took two courses in September, but I was in and out of the hospital so much that I had a hard time keeping up with them. I would like to be able to physically go to school, rather than have to do it online again,” she said. “I have a lot of options and I have some time to think about it now.
“We still have another PET scan coming up so then we'll know even further how plans are going. I think I'll be able to make more decisions in August.”
Catch Brooke as she co-hosts the Miracle Weekend Telethon this Saturday, from 10 p.m. until midnight Mountain Time, on Global BC. George will be taking calls during the Miracle Panel Sunday, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time, at 604-333-5449.
You can follow Brooke on her journey at bamalakoff.blogspot.ca, or keep up to date on her progress on Facebook: Brooke Malakoff Support Group.