Fight like a goose: A family’s journey through a cancer diagnosis

Published 4:50 pm Thursday, December 14, 2017

The holiday season has been a different kind of journey this year for Danville boys soccer coach Brent Beauman and his family.

Brent’s 8-year-old daughter Lucy complained of a fever on Nov. 26, the Sunday after Thanksgiving — and she never gets sick, Brent said. That Monday was the first of what would be many trips to the doctor’s office for the family.

Doctors checked her for strep throat, the flu and mono over the course of the next week. Nothing. She only had a fever. Doctors checked her bloodwork and something wasn’t right — her cell counts didn’t look normal.

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Then, last Monday night, doctors at the UK Children’s Hospital  went to the source.

“The next day they just did a bone marrow biopsy, and that came back and showed that she did have leukemia,” Brent said.

The news hit hard that Monday night — Dec. 4.

“The worst thing is that you’re a dad,” Brent said. “You’re supposed to protect your little girls. She’s crying because she’s in pain and scared, she’s saying ‘Daddy, no I don’t want to, make them stop.’ And you can’t. She has to have the medicine. It’s just an awful experience.”

Since that night, though, the Beauman’s have been overwhelmed with positive emotions.

“The support from the community has been just … I either just ramble or I don’t say anything because I don’t know how to describe it,” Beauman said. “I’m just in awe of Lucy and how she’s taking it, in awe of our friends, families, coworkers, strangers. I’m typically a pretty emotional person, but other than the first night when I was driving to Walmart screaming at the top of my lungs, other than that, I’ve been pretty (calm) and that shocks me.

“You hear of miracles and these things, but until you experience something like this, it’s crazy. I’ve been in church, been a believer and done mission work and all this stuff. But actual praying for myself, I always felt guilty. Because there’s other people that need God’s help. There’s people starving. This was a situation where, as selfish as it is, there’s nothing more important than your children. This healing had to be a process through doctors, hospitals.”

Lucy was diagnosed with pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia, one of the more treatable types of leukemia, particularly for children before puberty.

“She has been an amazing patient,” Brent said. “She does not like pain, of course, she doesn’t like the IVs. She hates the taste of most liquid medicine, so taking liquid tylenol for the fever was one of the worst things that we’ve done. Lots of tears of just being afraid, that kind of thing. We were sitting one night and Sarah got a text from a friend whose daughter was making a poster, and they drew a ribbon. Lucy saw it and said, ‘Do I have cancer?’ She just didn’t make the connection between leukemia and cancer. That was a long night.”


The Journey


Brent said that every step of the “adventure” has been a unique blessing.

They first went to Dr. Joshua Wiglesworth in Danville. He opted for a second opinion on Lucy’s bloodwork from a friend who he went to school with, someone who worked at UK.

“Ever since the shock of the diagnosis, all of the emotions and even just the time of not knowing what it was, that was awful,” Brent said. “Ever since then, we’ve had just a confident peace about the whole situation. My dad is a Baptist preacher and I’ve been involved in church, but this process has shown me the extreme power of prayer. If Dr. Wiglesworth hadn’t kept pressing, if he wasn’t too proud to call somebody to help him look at it, it doesn’t get diagnosed.”

That process is still taking place — and Brent said Lucy’s journey through it has been remarkable on its own.

After the diagnosis, Brent and his wife Sarah struggled with just how they were going to share the news.

“My wife is very private and shy. She’s not going to be the one dancing on the stage at ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” Beauman said. “She didn’t want to put stuff out on Facebook or make a page. Nobody wants to bother you because they know the stress you’re under, but everybody wants to know. So I put a post up on Facebook and in five minutes, one of my fraternity brothers messaged me and said ‘Hey, I’m on the board of a leukemia foundation. Send me your address and I’ll send you something.’ He said he’d have a check in the mail for me tomorrow. This was a guy, we hung out in college and I haven’t seen him in 15-20 years and it was instant.”

Brent has created a Twitter page — — and that’s how he relieves some of his stress from the situation.

“I’m not a (vocal) type, but now I just want to share,” Brent said. “I want to tell everybody but it’s like talking about a no hitter. I don’t want to talk too much because this is a two-year process. Just because we get to come home in a couple days, we still have to come back for treatment. And they say the first round of treatment is one of the easier ones. So it’s going to get worse. But the comfort to know that we have our wonderful family with us, Sarah and I have a strong relationship, we have friends, we have a church, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, people from our elementary schools, people we don’t even know are on this journey with us. It’s just incredible.”

“Fight like a goose”


When the Beauman’s learned they would have another girl (Emilee is 10), Sarah said she wanted to name her Lucy.

That made Brent think of Barb Schaffer, someone he coached with at Model.

“The girls were doing something weird or wrong and she’d say ‘you’re running around all Loosey-goosey,’” he said. “That name just reminded me, Lucy-goosey. And we ended up naming her Lucy.”

Now, that’s what Brent calls her.

“Ever since then, I call her Lucy-goosey. Luc the Goose. Luc-bigoose,” he said. “It’s always something with the goose. And of course, Lucy does not want to be the center of attention for anything.”

That, plus a hands-on memory at the Louisville zoo herding mother geese, gave Brent the “Fight Like a Goose” idea.

“I was just thinking, all of those different (pictures) and stuff of it, that’s kind of therapy for me, to sit at night and make those, try to be funny with it,” Brent said. “That’s how I deal with things. There’s the fight like a girl for breast cancer, so I was just trying to think of something for a goose.”


Danville’s support


Brent’s father was the pastor at Shakertown Baptist Church some 42 years ago.

And, for the better part of time since then, Danville was simply the town he was born in, Brent said.

But now, it’s a home. It’s a community that has rallied to his family’s aid.

“From ‘76 to 2004, that’s all that Danville was, it was just someplace I was born. Then we got married and moved here, and ever since then, it has been an incredible community,” Brent said. “It’s lots of fun, good people. Through this whole adventure, like JD (Smith) said to me, it just shows that everybody loves you all and that you have done good things. It’s just amazing to see that. The girls soccer team is planning to do something.

“One of my eighth—grade soccer players, he goes out and buys Lucy the biggest stuffed dog I’ve ever seen. All of the eighth—graders in a couple classes, we’ve had I don’t even know how many cards. They all say incredibly awesome things. Lucy’s class at Jenny Rogers sends things. You want to celebrate that because you hear so much negativity going on. But a place like Danville, everybody steps up for each other when they’re needed. It’s true, it’s not just showing off or faking. It shows in someone’s eyes when they talk to you, their sympathy.”

Smith, Danville’s girls soccer coach, said that he and Brent share a special bond.

“He’s one of the best,” Smith said. “Actually he’s the reason I’m in Danville, since he hired me as an assistant 11 years ago. Couldn’t ask for a better coach to learn from or a better friend. He has given so much to the community, whether it be through school, church or soccer. It’s no surprise to see the community rallying around his family during these hard times.”

Brent’s assistant Alen Karapandzic called a team meeting at the high school with the soccer players to tell them what was going on. The team was supposed to have its banquet on Tuesday, Dec. 5, but rescheduled.

Karapandzic asked Brent about a GoFundMe page, something that others had been asking about as well.

“You feel like you’re panhandling for money or something. And again, my wife Sarah did not want to do that,” Brent said. “I was like, ‘well listen, we’re going to need the money. This is going to be super expensive.’ And if for some reason we have the money, whatever comes from this donation that we don’t use, we’ll give it back to this hospital.”

In just two days, the GoFundMe page has raised nearly $5,000 for the Beauman family.

For Danville soccer senior Saif Siddiqui, helping his coach is just repayment for years of helping him as a player and student. Siddiqui has known Brent for nine years and he’s been his coach for seven.

“Coach and I have had a good relationship. He’s someone I know I can talk to and ask for help on and off the soccer field whether it be about school or soccer,” Siddiqui said. “Coach is really loved by his players and that is shown through the respect all the players give him on and off the field. Coach has had such a positive impact on individuals within the community whether it be through school, soccer, or community events. Each relationship he makes is unique and shows how much he cares about the other person. We in the community, love the family, and I have noticed that many others want to help the family and reciprocate the love they show everyone.”


Photo submitted/Lucy at the UK Children’s Hospital.

What’s next


The Beauman’s have a long, challenging road ahead. But in the short time that they’ve known about Lucy’s diagnosis, they’ve had peace knowing they have the support of so many people behind them.

“Attitude is everything. It’s hard not to smile when somebody’s smiling at you,” Brent said. “Is this serious, yes. Is it scary, yes. It’s sad, absolutely. But through everyone’s prayer and support, our prayer, God just being here with us, we’re able to laugh and smile about it. Lucy is in a better place. We’re having a good time, she rides scooters down the hallway and we’re pushing the IV pole behind her. We want to make it the best we can. The pity party is over, let’s just do it. We have to do it either way, so why not have fun with it?”

After this first round of chemotherapy, the Beauman’s will likely get to return to Danville.

“You stay 10 days and then they evaluate whether you have enough immune system where it’s safe for you to leave the hospital. As of right now, we’re on our way to be able to leave by the beginning of the week.”

Brent also said this has already become an opportunity for him to share his story — just one month ago, he couldn’t imagine he would be at such peace in this kind of situation.

“This is just another way to help people and spread God’s love,” Brent said. “That’s what it’s going to be. Again, right now it’s just amazing that our little girl is sitting on the couch playing Clue with one of her best friends. She’s hungry, she wants to eat all the time. We’re supposed to have cancer. She’s going to have those days, we’re not naive to think that it’s always going to be like this. But we have that comfort that it’s going to be OK.

“Going back to sports, in preseason, yeah conditioning is awful. Running hills is no good. But if you do that, I’m sure at the state championship games, when they won, none of them were thinking about a sore knee or sore back. That’s where we are, we’re going to get through it and then you can celebrate the victories. That’s what we’ve been doing and we’ll continue to do, and hopefully we’ll have lots of them.”

Brent isn’t sure what the future will look like. But he hopes that his family will carry this feeling throughout the challenges they face.

“I hope and pray that this is how we can be throughout this whole thing,” he said. “It’s been a whole lot more enjoyable. It’s making me look at life differently, of course. Apparently we are affecting other people and inspiring. I think that’s what I do best as a coach, I’m not really a tactician or anything, I feel like I can encourage. Your mind is what limits you, not your body. Go out, do what you love to do and do it the best you can. When you fail, learn from it and do it differently the next time.

“I hope that this is just a part of Lucy’s story and she can grow and do something wonderful in return for somebody or something. I hope that we can continue to do whatever we were doing to make everybody want to help us out. I put on there what our plans our because I feel so guilty in even making it, even asking for it. We’re going to use the money donated to help with Lucy, but we’ll also use whatever is leftover, whatever our situation is, to help those who are suffering up here.”