Everyone’s Better Off After They Meet Brecken Simmons
On the front of his business card it says, “Brecken Simmons: Encourager, Survivor, Conversationalist. Follow me on YouTube at Brecken’s World.” On the back, it says, “What do you call cheese that doesn’t belong to you? NACHO CHEESE.”
Brecken is 8 years old with a low-grade glioma, a brain tumor. But, that’s only part of him. His favorite sport is baseball, his least favorite is soccer, he loves chocolate chips, and the movie Elf, to which he quotes, “Have you seen these toilets, they’re ginormous.”His charisma is enchanting.The stuff of passionate business leaders and heartfelt politicians, the ones who actually make the world better and seem to vibrate from a level closer to God. And, he has a work to do.
His mom, Patti Simmons, said Brecken wanted the business cards for his birthday. “He says his job to help people.” His dad, Scott, chimes in, “There’s something about him. People are just drawn to him.”
When you hear Brecken’s story, it’s difficult not to wonder about destiny. He was born a Russian orphan, like his brother, Grant, and adopted at 13 months. Patti and Scott began the adoption process two years before Brecken was even born. “It took a lot to get him here. That has to mean something,” Patti said, talking to God.
His parents say school is not Brecken’s thing. He talks too much and gets frustrated when he can’t get something right. “That’s okay,” said Scott. “We know he has other gifts and we need to let him fly.”
At five-years-old after complaining of headaches and throwing up, Brecken was diagnosed with the brain tumor. The neurosurgeon’s recommendation was not to take it out, Brecken wouldn’t be the same. So, they proceeded with chemotherapy once a month for a year. Brecken suffered fatigue and nausea; lost some hair and the perfect attendance award at school. But, his charisma only grew.
“He would take his business cards to the hospital and give them to the receptionists as a way to start a conversation and get to know them,” said Patti. “And, last year, he told jokes on stage at the Braden’s Hope Gala in front of 1200 people.”
“Brecken genuinely cares for people,” said Scott. “When he talks about what he wants to be when he grows up, it’s always some type of service.”
After a year, Brecken completed his treatment protocol and the tumor was declared stable. The family rejoiced, stopped chemo, and surgeons took out his port, a line that goes into a vein in his chest and administers the medicine to his blood stream. Brecken carried on with his work.
“He made packs for the homeless…”, Patti said.
“He’s hoping to mow lawns when he’s old enough,” said Scott. “He works for free.”
This year a big idea popped into Brecken’s head- the Blue Spring Police Department should get a fundraiser.
“They keep us safe,” he said.
The family helped him set up a lemonade stand in the driveway and people came in droves to get a glass and meet the little boy with the great idea. He made local and national news and ended up selling more than 200 glasses of lemonade and raising more than $3500. Although they kept it to themselves, during the fundraiser the family was anticipating the results of Brecken’s routine MRI. When the phone rang during the commotion, it was Brecken’s oncologist, “There’s growth and he should go back on treatment.”
“We cried,” said Brecken. “I don’t want to do chemo again, and I don’t want to get my port put back in.”
After being off treatment for two and half years, the family began again in September. This time it will be chemo once a week for a year- 52-rounds.
“I worry about him,” said Patti. “A year ago, he had a seizure in the backseat of the car. I had to call an ambulance and during the ride, I thought he had a stroke because he wasn’t moving his left side. It turned out fine, but we don’t know what the tumor will do. This will be my concern for the rest of my life.”
Back on chemo, Brecken remains dedicated to his work. He is the unofficial mascot for the Blue Springs South High School football team. Recently, he stood in the middle of their locker-room with a microphone and said a prayer. He noted that it’s not just about winning its about having fun. The coach chuckled and said, “it’s pretty fun to win though.” But, it’s Brecken’s job to focus us on the important things.
“It’s like he’s an old soul,” said Patti.
“I don’t know if everything happens for a reason, but everything will be used for good,” said Scott.
After meeting Brecken, one wonders the big questions. Why is it the good people who must suffer? Are some people here to show us something about love? And, what can I do to help others too?