It’s been a decade now since we started The Heroes Project, our way of celebrating survivorship and supporting the fight against cancer. Every year in this issue, we introduce a new group of survivors and tell their stories in print and online. Stories of courage, of hope and of remarkable resilience. There are well over 100 Gwinnett Magazine Heroes.
“This is just a moment; a very hard moment, but just a moment just the same.” —Lamon Family Motto
Do you remember what you were doing the morning of April 11, 2018? Eight year-old Briley Lamon and her family remember what they were doing. They were on the phone with doctors receiving the life-changing diagnosis of Briley’s cancer—acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
“We dropped everything, leaving Thomasville, Georgia within the hour,” says mom Brigitte. “Briley was admitted to the hospital after a confirmed diagnosis and didn’t leave for sixty days.”
And so began a two-month period of testing for the Lamon family, who were tested both physically and emotionally. Dad Brian and brother Cooper were still back home in southwest Georgia while Briley and her mom endured the daily rounds of tests and treatments, the family separated by 250 miles and the uncertainty of the road that lie ahead. Eventually, the burden of separation was too much.
“With Briley’s form of leukemia the treatment is very heavy, requiring weekly treatments at the hospital with many scheduled inpatient visits for the first year,” says Brigitte. “That’s followed by two years of monthly hospital outpatient clinic visits. Unfortunately, any time a low-grade fever occurs, Briley has to be admitted to the hospital.”
So the Lamons decided to move, relocating to Dacula to be closer to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA), and to begin Briley and her family’s new normal.
“Briley has missed most of her second grade school year, lost her hair twice, moved to a new city, started a new school, and spent more than a hundred nights in the hospital,” says Brigitte, adding that 2018 was a year of appointments, worry about infection, and the unpredictability of chemo-related side effects.
But through the painful journey of separation and suffering, Briley, her mom says, has learned some lessons she’ll carry with her forever. If she can handle leukemia, “she will be able to handle anything handed to her. She’ll be an asset to many others who cross her path because of all the medical procedures she has gone through.”
Briley has learned that a compassionate question about another human being’s condition or appearance is so much better, so much kinder, than simply staring at them and wondering what makes them different. And she’s also learned to speak up for herself, something that doesn’t always come naturally to a child of eight surrounded by adults in white coats.
“She’s confident speaking with others about her diagnosis and what is going on within her body.”
What is going on with Briley now is the maintenance phase of treatment—monthly hospital visits and nightly oral chemo at home—a phase that will continue until the conclusion of treatment in September of 2020.
The Lamon family has a motto they lean on when times get tough, and this past year fits that description—a year they wouldn’t wish on anyone. So they don’t take it lightly when they remember: “This is just a moment; a very hard moment, but just a moment just the same.”
Briley’s story made possible by a grant from Greater Atlanta Christian School
Thank you for helping us to share Briley’s inspirational story.
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