There is an old saying, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” The point I think is that if we can hold on, we may find a way to get around the problem that made it seem that we were at the end of our rope. If we don’t find a way to hang on, there is no hope. The challenge is to seek new possibilities and to find a way through.
On Wednesday, August 5, you will have a chance to hear an amazing story of a young man and his family that did just that. The book, “Possibilities”, will be featured at a book signing at the Church of the Good Shepherd, located at 4140 Clark Street. The signing will start at 5:30 p.m. Faith, family, love and persistence are all parts of this victory.
The book was written by N. Turner Simkins about his son Brennen’s battle with a rare type of leukemia. The promise in the forward of the book “Possibilities” is that you will go on a journey that will defy the impossible. A story made of decisions that were made with faith by a courageous young boy and his family that led to victory.
Brennen’s grandmother is Sarah Turner Simkins who grew up here in Covington. Frank and Kay Turner are Brennen’s great aunt and uncle. Brennen’s Dad, Turner Simkins, spent many summer months growing up with his family here in Covington.
The story of Brennen’s battle with leukemia started on the eve of his seventh birthday. And for the last seven years has been a roller coaster of hope and despair, of closed doors and new open doors. This journey of faith and courage takes the family from their home in Augusta to Atlanta and then to St. Jude’s in Memphis.
When the diagnoses was first given, there was about a fifty percent chance of recovery. Very difficult new to receive about anyone, but particularly one so young. The family all came to Children’s Health Care of Atlanta. The treatment was to be a bone marrow transplant. Brennen’s older brother, Nat. was found to be what appeared to be a perfect match. But when that transplant failed, the message was not hopeful at all. In fact, the family was advised to think of hospice care. The same would be the results following two transplants. There appeared to be nowhere to go.
The only medical facility that was willing to continue the battle was St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. The whole family, Turner, Tara, older brother Nat and younger brother Christopher continued the journey with Brennen. This time the donor was to be Brennen’s mother, Tara. And the amazing news this time, the transplant was successful.
From almost the very beginning of this battle with leukemia, Brennen’s dad, Turner, recorded the events that were crashing in on the family and their reactions to them. This running commentary became the basis for the book, “Possibilities.” As you read this amazing story of perseverance and courage, you will be truly blessed.
Brennen and his dad, Turner, have been featured on the TODAY SHOW on NBC as well as FOX AND FRIENDS WEEKEND on the Fox News Network. When asked by Matt Lowery why they made the choice to continue the battle when the transplants continued to be rejected. Brennen replied, “I didn’t want to die.”
In telling this amazing story Turner writes, “We have no choice but to look forward. Brennan demanded it of himself. He changed himself from a condemned soul to a living one.” This family believed in the possibilities and found the strength to continue.
One great sign of Brennen’s success today is that he has been able to take up his golf clubs and start to play again. How fitting for someone from the Augusta area. With his battle with Leukemia behind him for the present, the future seems unlimited.
Turner has also written the words to a song with the same title, “Possibilities”. Country music star, Darius Rucker, has released a recording as well as a video. You may recognize Rucker’s name from being lead singer and rhythm guitarist with “Hootie and the Blowfish”.
Rucker said, “I think for a lot of parents hope is hard to find when their kids are sick. Music is really good at giving people hope that things will be better. That’s what this song is all about.” Rucker commented he got excited when he heard the lyrics to the song that Brennen’s Dad wrote. He really was excited at the story that inspired the lyrics of this courage battle against leukemia.
We can all find strength in believing the possibilities while there is still hope. Every battle will not be won as Brennen’s story. But no battle will be won unless we try. While there is still a way to go we must find the courage to try. The challenge is there in the final sentences of the book, “Possibilities,” “Live with a purpose. Love, believe in the possibilities and press on.”
Join your neighbors on Wednesday, August 5, at 5:30 p.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd to hear more about this amazing story.
B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.