Alaskan Bush People matriarch revealed to the world that she beat advanced lung cancer — the very disease that put her at only a 3% survival rate last spring. After months of painful radiation and chemotherapy treatments, the 54-year-old heard the words she'd been wanting to hear.
All signs of her cancer, which had spread throughout her chest and back, had disappeared.
"The doctors were as shocked as we were,” says Brown's husband, Billy Brown, who relocated his family from their homestead in rural Alaska to Southern California last year for her to receive treatment.
Despite her long journey to beating the disease that made it even painful for her to take a sip of water, Brown says that it's not over yet. She told PEOPLE that cancer will be a part of her life forever, as she's required to go in to the doctor every three months for scans.
"I have to go in every three months now for the rest of my life and be scanned to see if it’s back or not. It’s going to be a part of my life forever. But I want to encourage people to enjoy every moment and walk every moment with God because he knows what it’s about. Never give up faith," Brown said.
She added that her caretakers during her time in treatment gave her the strength she needed to face the painful chemo and radiation.
"You go to the chemo room and for radiation and there are faces there that you’ve grown used to seeing and then you go in again and they’re not there and it’s really sad. But the care givers fill those rooms with so much sincere love and hope — and that’s food for the soul. God gave me a great gift in them," she said.
The experience was so painful, in fact, that she said at the end of her treatment, she could hardly bear it.
"My last treatment was Dec. 7 and it took about a month for the pain to go away. It was so bad and the radiation treatment hurt so badly," she said. "To take a sip of water just hurt so bad and I couldn’t eat anything. It progressed in strength, the hurting. I went from ice cream and mashed potatoes and stuff to nothing at all."
Now, however, Brown feels totally different. "I’m still a little weak and tired and I get a little sicky, but I do some walking around the house now," she said, adding that her perspective on food has totally changed. "But now I’m so hungry. I used to not be a big food person but now I am so appreciative of food."
Brown revealed that at one point, she weighed just 77 pounds, and is now up to 104. She told the magazine that she wants others in her situation to know that her journey from a 3% survival chance to now means there's hope.
"Just this past week I was thinking back about how very bad I really was. Entering that road was so dark and I was fearful. You hear the words 'chemo' and 'radiation' and you’re staring down that dark road and I want other people to know that it’s petrifying but you need to keep a little light. I hope they can see that I made it through and that gives them hope," she said. "It’s very scary but I never gave up hope. You have to stay positive and keep God with you because he really does perform miracles. In fact, I’ve allowed the University of California, Los Angeles to use my medical records for a case study because they hadn’t really run into my situation before."