Haley’s journey: Finding a place for agriculture in the midst of cancer treatment

Monday, July 24, 2017
Haley Browning
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FFA and 4-H youths raise animals year round to get ready for competition. One 10-year-old girl, Haley Browning, not only got her animals competition ready this past year, but simultaneously has been fighting cancer.

“On March 5, 2016, she had a seizure, while she was at my parents,” Dorrian Browning, Haley’s mother, said. “March 21 is when they told us it was adrenal cortical carcinoma. This is on top of her brother already having heart problems.”

Haley has been battling cancer for more than a year. She’s been taking more than 40-50 pills a day, and receiving treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital, in Kansas City, weekly. Haley’s cancer is rare, but her oncologist never stops looking for answers, the family said.

According to Dorrian, the Browning household is in constant chaos, but they still try not to let it hinder Haley’s ability to raise and show rabbits. Last year, Haley wasn’t able to participate much in the Saline County Fair, but this year she was able to walk away with a Grand Champion Meat Pen title.

“We have five different breeds and there’s over 120 in the barn,” Dorrian said. “We’re taking 56 to (the) state fair this year.”

With everything going on with the Browning family — trying to keep up with Haley’s treatments, as well as her accomplishments with 4-H — they decided to create a Facebook page.

“We wanted something to keep everyone in the loop, because word of mouth can only travel so far, and it’s not the same story every time,” Dorrian said. “So we wanted something where everybody could just go to and see how Haley’s doing, and go from there. There’s a lot of people to try to keep in the loop, and it was just easier.”

The Facebook page was very useful in the community, creating chatter around the Saline County Fair. At the end of the fair, before it’s annual premium sale, the board announced that they would be donating 1 percent of their earnings to Haley. An additional 32 businesses and individuals, and 31 exhibitors also donated earnings. More than $9,000 was contributed to Haley and her family.

“That’s your hard earned check for the year,” Dorrian explained. “For them kids to give… and it wasn’t just one, it was 31 of them.”

The Facebook page not only was able to keep her family and Saline County supporters in the loop, but it also attracted some outsiders.

“We went to Duck Dynasty in March, and they had all gone on there and read about her, and they wanted to know what was going on,” Dorrian said.

The family was able to meet the cast and learn how to do duck calls. They were also invited to come back anytime. The Browning family was also able to meet Thomas Rhett, country music singer, for her “make a wish” trip. They plan on seeing him again in Columbia in October.

Though the trips helped deal with reality, Dorrian still wishes cancer never existed.

“There’s not just one thing you could ask for, there’s a ton of stuff,” she said. “It’s always something, and we don’t like asking for much. But when you go through cancer it’s almost like you have to.”

Find Haley’s Facebook page under “Haley’s Journey,” and track her progress and adventures.

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