Bernie Brown’s Korean war veteran dad was diagnosed with cancer on the same same day her son Finn finished his own treatment
A grieving mum believes her dad “traded places” with her son when he was diagnosed with the disease – on the same day her toddler finished his own treatment.
Bernie Brown is convinced her brave father Jim Brown somehow swapped places with little Finn, dying from the cruel condition as the youngster began to recover.
Throughout two-year-old Finn’s battle with cancer Jim, 82, often said he wished he could trade places with the brave tot.
But in a tragic twist of fate, Jim’s wish seemed to come true when he was taken to hospital with lung cancerin 2012 just as Finn was winning his own battle.
Jim, a veteran of the Korean War, passed away just 12 weeks later. Finn is now eight having battled the disease before his second birthday.
Now, Bernie has written a moving poem to express her love for her dad, the Liverpool Echo reported.
“He had sat on our sofa on diagnosis day and wept and said, ‘it should have been me, I am an old man’,” Bernie recalled.
“It didn’t take long before I reflected on the meaning behind my dad’s diagnosis and his clear wish to trade places with Finn.”
Called Why Him Not Me?, the poem has been entered into a competition in Liverpool as part of the 20th anniversary of the cancer charity Pause for Hope.
“[The poem] is testament to my dad who, in the face of his terminal diagnosis, was courageous enough to know it was right he died to allow his grandson to live,” Bernie said.
“He took this responsibility in the same way as when a 21-year-old he went to Korea to serve in the forgotten war.”
In another bittersweet moment, Bernie was heavily pregnant with her third son Sebastian when Jim was taken into hospital with lung cancer and gave birth on the same day Jim’s last battle ended and he died.
“Sebastian was born on the day of his funeral – hours after I had read his eulogy,” she said.
“It was a beautiful moment, and a fitting tribute to an amazing man, my dad, Jim Brown who was courageous in every aspect of his life – right to the end.
“In his last week, we had a wonderful conversation about why it was better that he died and Finn lived – he celebrated the wonders of life and died at peace with everyone and everything – he lives on in his grandsons Toby, Finn, and Seb, and is so very well remembered.”
A great believer in giving back, this year Bernie will be climbing Machu Picchu to raise money for Nicola’s Fund, a charity that supports the families of children diagnosed with cancer.
Charity founders Debbie and Steve Riley were instrumental during Finn’s illness, sending the family to Centre Parcs to keep things as normal as possible. The experience has left an indelible mark on Bernie who is determined to show that ‘families can come through the other side’.
She said: “I take great comfort from the belief that it was a trade and the events that followed including Sebastian’s birth on the day of the funeral only confirmed my spiritual sense that this was a life cycle moment,a precious gift of life from granddad to grandson, from father to daughter.
“I am proud to be his daughter.”
Why Him not Me? Bernie’s poem in full…
I’m 82, he’s not quite 2
I’ve lived, he’s not started yet,
I’m at the end
He’s at the start,
I have achieved so much
It’s just NOT FAIR!
The lad’s my grandson and I care …
Cancer, Cancer go away
Come back another day
Like the rain, I pray
Go away and come back another way…
Give it to me,
A happy old man,
If there’s a God,
Give it to me and let the child grow like a tree
Put down roots just like me
Sprout some shoots,
Let him be
Happy, Contented, Fit and Free!
Six months later dad was dead!
A happy man- exchanged his life for his grandson’s reprieve,
He always was a betting man
This was the bet of his life
On a must win horse
Remission its name and a cause we will claim.
Our Finn is 8
And we have the ALL CLEAR!
Granddad Jim took his cancer
Finn is the future, Our hope so true
We owe it all to our one true Blue
Never defeated Jim Brown – you live on through all your grandsons,
But especially one –
The cancer survivor thanks to you
And your deal with God, who must be a blue!