After a trying 6 months, Town family happy to be home for the holidays


By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 3:51 pm on Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bree Town, 9, left, and her father, Chris Town, play together at their home in Greenville Monday morning. Bree, who has acute myeloid leukemia, recently came home in time for Thanksgiving after spending 60 days in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatments. — Daily News/Cory Smith

A family who has spent the last six months fighting for the life of its youngest and only saw each other when their rotations crossed paths, are thankful to spend the holidays at home — together.

Bree Town, 9, hugs her family’s dog, Squeaky, Monday morning while enjoying a day at home with her mother and father. Bree was able to return home after spending 60 days undergoing chemotherapy treatments at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. — Daily News/Cory Smith

The Town family received heartbreaking news on May 1 when Bree Town, 9, of Greenville, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

AML is a cancer that attacks the myeloid line of blood and is usually found in adults.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” said Bree’s mother, Jennifer Town. “We are still in denial and shock.”

Chris Town, Bree’s father, said for the last six months, he and Jennifer have been taking 24-hour shifts at the hospital, so Bree never had to go a moment without a parent by her side.

“It brought us together,” Jennifer said. “But not in the way we would have wanted (to be brought together).”

Bree was able to come home for good on Nov. 11 after her last 60-day chemotherapy stint in the hospital, allowing her to be with her whole family including siblings Madison Town, 11, and Justin Belding, 17.

Bree Town, 9, smiles as she reads through a video game instruction guide Monday morning looking for inspiration to make clay figures based on the characters from a popular “Super Mario” video game. — Daily News/Cory Smith

While Bree sat playing with her “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” activity set, she told her parents she was happy to be home.

Arriving home was amazing for the Town family, as people lined their driveway for a welcome-home celebration.

“I’m thankful for Greenville,” Chris said, noting it felt like an episode of “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition.”

Jennifer and Chris said people from the community stepped up and made sure the family had everything they needed such as groceries, toys, gift cards and more.

Some even helped take care of their yard and pool while the Towns were away.

“It’s incredible,” she said. “I’m never going to move (out of the Greenville community).”

The Towns said they are also thankful for the employees that work at their business Luxury Janitorial because they stepped up and helped run the business so Jennifer and Chris could be at the hospital.

“Even before we realized we needed anything, it was there,” Jennifer said of everyone who helped the family in some way.

Looking back at the last six months, both Jennifer and Chris said the hospital staff and other patients had also become part of the family.

“They are there for you in really hard times,” Jennifer said.

Because of this experience, the Town family has developed a new outlook on life. Chris said before he was a goal-oriented person who would always have things planned out and on schedule.

Now he said the family lives in the moment.

“You have today,” Chris said, noting not to worry about the future. “I have learned to put a little fun in each day.”

Although the Town family is not sure exactly what they will be doing on Thanksgiving, they are thankful to know it will be spent together as a family.

“We are thankful to be home for the holidays,” Jennifer said.

The Town family, from left, top row, Justin Belding, 17, Jennifer Town, Chris Town, bottom row, Bree Town, 9, and Madison Town, 11, cheer together as Bree was able to return home from the hospital to be with her family in time for Thanksgiving. — Courtesy Photo

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