“I am Jennalee Trammel’s mother, Mitzi Gaines. I have watched the story of Brent’s brain cancer from the inside from the very first morning of his first problem. I have never seen a more courageous couple than Brent and Jennalee. There has been enormous stress on the whole family, but Jennalee has been the glue to hold them all together, making every attempt to keep life “”as usual”” for all of them. Whatever has gone on inside of her, her sweet spirit and determination to get through this has been what has shown on the outside, and to me that is the epitome of strength and faith.
Her boys were 7, 10, and 13 when Brent had a seizure and following brain surgery. Jennalee kept the boys feeling secure and kept their lives as uncomplicated as possible with all that was going on. She comforted them with reassuring words and yet “”normal”” activities. For Brent she was there — whatever he needed. I saw her on her computer at all hours, researching oligodendroglioma and all of its aspects, treatments, results. She could have a medical degree in it by now. She emailed and called (along with Brent) doctors and research centers all over the country. She didn’t just learn it – she used it. She has been able to talk to the doctors with knowledge as well as give all of us around her the hope that she gained. Yes, there were “”down”” days, but never debilitating days. Yes, she was scared, but her boys could not detect that from her usual upbeat manner. She and Brent talk realistically, but her faith has lifted them both on hard days as well as good days. Others have seen and been inspired by the words when has written on CaringBridge and Facebook. She could publish a book of her emails and encouraging words to others.
She has become a beacon for the others in her community who are also fighting any type of brain cancer. I have seen her on the phone, meeting for lunch, crying with a spouse, and just listening when they need to talk. I know she has prayed with and taken food to those who are so distressed, as if she didn’t have her own worries. I cannot tell you how many people have said they learned faith and courage from her. I am the closest, yet most encouraged and uplifted by how she has handled this.
She is certainly the hero of my life —and all who know her. Mere words cannot convey the journey she has traveled and the lessons she has learned and passed on. Words cannot show her heart, full of love and compassion for her own situation of course, but also for those she has added into her life as a result of this journey. Her boys are the picture of how she has handled this. Their teachers talk about their sweet hears and great attitudes during their hard days. Her oldest son won the most courageous award at his school during his senior year, with words from his coach that reflected all he has learned — especially from Jennalee and Brent, as they have been on the hardest road of all.
Yes — she certainly deserves an award, a tribute, and a medal of honor, especially the Stevie Patrick Legacy of Love Award.”