One Day at a Time

Meet Brooke. The past few years have been an incredible journey, not knowing what life had in store for her. So she took it one day at a time.

As a young, vibrant barrel racer, Brooke was on top of the world. She was young, had many accomplishments under her belt already, such as multiple qualifications for Canadian Girls Rodeo Association (CGRA) and Alberta Barrel Racing Association (ABRA) Barrel Racing Finals. as well as being a tough competitor in the High School Rodeo Association in Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Goat Tying. She was ready to take on the world, and had her whole life waiting for her.


When Brooke was at the age of 19, it was January 16, 2012. Brooke had received every high school graduating student\’s long awaited college acceptance letter. Later that day, she also received some devastating news. She had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), not exactly how she pictured that day would go.

When I asked Brooke how she felt about it right after she was diagnosed, she said, \”For a young 19-year-old girl, who was not even a year out of graduating high school, being diagnosed with cancer was certainly not how I pictured that day to go. Something no one could ever imagine happening, a true nightmare. At first I was really scared, and scared many times throughout my journey.\”

Immediately after being diagnosed, the doctors proceeded with a bone marrow extraction, and from that test they can determine all the details of the leukaemia and how they were going to treat Brooke. From there, they started by testing siblings, and there is only a 30% chance they could be a potential match. Unfortunately, Brooke\’s brother was not a match. After finding out that her brother was not a match, the doctors went to a worldwide stem cell and bone marrow bank, called OneMatch. This process was started at the end of January to beginning of February. They went through all the possible donors until at least two 100% matches were found. One, who will be the donor, and the other, a person for backup.

Brooke learned of her transplant date in mid-May, and received her transplant on June 22, 2012.

\”Not being able to contact or know any information about my donor, a year later, when it was possible, I put in for a request for contacting each other. Receiving further information about my donor, I then proceeded to contact her. I am happy to say we are friends and keep in contact on a regular basis.\”

In the beginning of Brooke being diagnosed, she was very focused on telling her friends, family and loved ones that it was going to be okay. I asked Brooke what mindset she had throughout her healing, \”I centered so much on positives. I truly believe in the power of positive thinking, and I surrounded myself with positive things. There are some things in life you just cannot control, you just have to know that someone has a greater plan for you, and never lose faith. At times, keeping totally positive, and not losing my head was hard. During those times, I was so lucky to be surrounded by people who loved me; they would tell me a funny story or give me encouraging things to read, always letting me know that there was light at the end of the tunnel. I really had to put everything on hold, my friends, barrel racing, even being outside. At first it was really hard; I just wanted to be like everyone else again. I focused all that time on myself, I needed to focus on myself to get better, put everything on hold at that time, so that I can do what I love for the rest of my life.\”


Throughout Brooke\’s healing and time in the hospital, she received many beautiful messages, sayings, and thoughts from so many people. The words that stuck with her the most, and were the most inspirational were from her doctor. It was almost as if these words were etched into her soul for as long as she needed them. \”You must just take it \”One Day at a Time.\” So, she did. At that point in her life, she couldn\’t think about the past or even the future. Brooke focused on those inspiring words every moment throughout her journey.

On September 27, 2012, Brooke was told she was cancer free.

Brooke is now back in the saddle, but it has not been overnight to get back to her lifelong passion. \”This past year has really been a struggle for me, as I wanted to be doing what I love before I was even ready to. I never really realized how much of what I had been through really affected my body, till that fall when I started riding again. It was a horrible feeling when I went to get on my horse and I did not even have the strength to pull myself up onto the saddle. I took most of the winter off, as I do not have an immune system yet, and decided those indoor arenas may not be the best thing for me. This spring and summer I have been riding lots going to a few jackpots and rodeos here and there.\”

Brooke is back out at the jackpots, and has been going to some Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeos (CIRA); and, because we compete together at the jackpots, may I mention, she is starting to kick ass again!

This past August, Brooke was blessed with a horse named Dumpling. \”When I first got him, I was so nervous; the first couple runs together were not so picture perfect. I had almost forgotten how to ride. I had lost all my strength, and my confidence as a rider. So, a lot of the first couple months I spent just riding him, mostly out in the open stubble field and walking the barrel pattern. I would go out in the pasture and just lie in the grass and watch him. Always greeting me for a cookie, I would just stand there and brush him. I was doing lots so we could get to know each other. If we were going to connect barrel racing, first we needed to connect as friends.\”


\”For the first while, he was just taking care of me; I remember one jackpot he left the third barrel so hard he almost lost me, then shortly remembered I wasn’t ready to go that fast. The more we barrel raced, the more I gained confidence in myself and the more we gained in each other. These past couple months, I have been going to some college rodeos and barrel races. It\’s been going really well, making some points and some money here and there. For each run, we keep getting better and better, I am really excited to see what the future brings for the two of us. It has not been till the start of this winter that I am finally starting to find that I am riding like my old self.\”

Life is precious.

\”There are so many moments in life people take for granted. Spending a lot of time in the hospital, I really got a great understanding of this. Being out of the hospital, I certainly wake up each morning with a smile on my face. Receiving my life-saving gift, I feel as if I have gotten a second chance at life and I do not want to waste it. Embracing life, I cherish all the milestones I once did not know if I would be able to. I take every opportunity presented to me, because, from experience, I truly know that life can change forever in the blink of an eye. You can’t take for granted what you have today; you don’t know what will come tomorrow or even if there will be a tomorrow.\” — Brooke Patton

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