Relay for Life in Winter Garden to honor local cancer survivors
Windermere resident Brogan Regan, 5, will be among the cancer survivors honored at Relay for Life of West Orange.
| 10:36 a.m. May 4, 2017
West Orange Times & Observer
WEST ORANGE At just 5 years old, Windermere resident Brogan Regan is his parents’ hero.
That’s because just a 18 months ago, he was diagnosed with leukemia. And through all his extensive treatment, he never goes into an appointment or treatment without a smile on his face.
Now in his third and final phase of treatment, Brogan is set to be honored during one of the survivors’ laps at Relay for Life of West Orange Saturday, May 6.
In fall 2015, Angela and Richard Regan and their kids were new to the Orlando area. Having moved after being on a work assignment in the Dominican Republic, they first settled in Winter Park. But while they were working on getting their four children settled in school, they discovered something was wrong with Brogan.
All four kids were sick that October — Brogan with an ear infection, daughter Aspen and son Cahlan with sinus infections, and youngest son Vaehlen with a cold. Everyone soon got better, but for a little more than a week, Brogan still carried a fever that spiked to 104 degrees.
Then, on Halloween, Brogan fell going up the steps to a house while trick-or-treating. The next day — a Sunday — Angela Regan noticed Brogan sporting a gnarly bruise.
“When I woke up and he was sitting on the couch he had this bruise like I’d never seen before,” she said. “I thought, ‘Maybe he’s anemic.’ I took him to the pediatrician Monday and asked her if she could order some blood work. Monday afternoon, I took him to get labs, and Tuesday morning the phone rang and they said we had to get him to the hospital.”
Brogan’s numbers were so low that he had to have two blood and two platelet infusions in the first 24 hours. That Wednesday it was confirmed that he had leukemia. The same day, the Regans booked their flight to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Since his diagnosis, Brogan’s time has been split between St. Jude and Florida Hospital. He’s currently on his third phase of treatment, called “the maintenance phase.” He stayed at St. Jude for about four months while receiving his first and second phases of treatment — high doses of chemotherapy.
Now in the maintenance phase, Brogan still receives smaller doses of chemotherapy. He’s on week 61 of the 120-week treatment phase and back in the classroom at Primrose School of Ocoee. And on Saturday, he’ll march around Lakeview Middle with other cancer survivors at Relay for Life.
“… (Brogan) is hands down our hero … He always sees the bright side. He goes into the hospital and he’s still a child — he plays, makes fun and enjoys things wherever he’s at.” - Angela Regan, Brogan's mom
“It’s life-changing for Brogan and the whole family; he is hands down our hero,” Angela Regan said. “As a child, he goes to his doctor’s appointments, he’s been in the hospital for weeks on end. He always sees the bright side. He goes into the hospital and he’s still a child — he plays, makes fun and enjoys things wherever he’s at.
“I think the way that Brogan has been so strong has amazed me,” she said. “How the kids have handled themselves through this is just amazing to me.”
And his siblings have banded together as a support system for him, too. The way they support their brother and interact with each other, Angela Regan said, is “a parent’s dream.”
“He makes fun happen,” Aspen Regan, 9, said of her brother.
RELAY FOR LIFE WEST ORANGE
When Brogan’s teacher at Primrose School, Debbie Thomas, asked the family if they could honor Brogan at Winter Garden’s Relay for Life, the Regans were all in.
“I think the celebration of survivors and remembering the lives that have been lost is touching, any time you experience something like that,” Angela Regan said. “We’re looking forward to speaking and sharing our story. It’s special, it’s celebrating Brogan and his fight and how well he’s done.”
This year’s Relay for Life in Winter Garden — themed “Cruisin’ for the Cure,” a Route 66-based theme — is a bit different than in years past. It is only six hours this year, and organizers are focusing more on the event experience, which includes the need for more space. Normally held in downtown Winter Garden, the event has been moved to Lakeview Middle because of that need.
“We needed to move the location of the event in order for us to provide the event with the space it needed,” said Amy Nichols, community manager for Relay.
Richard Regan said the events their family has endured is a permanent reminder that every moment in life is something to be celebrated.
“(Through it all) I’ve learned to really enjoy every minute of life and not take anything for granted,” he said. “Sometimes, it takes an event like this to make you recognize how special every day is.”
“The outpour of love and help that we have seen through the community, through the children’s school and through different organizations, the people that volunteer at the hospitals and do these things like Relay for Life — they’re amazing,” Angela Regan said. “Their hearts are so big, and I don’t think I would have ever realized how many people there are that just show true compassion in whatever way they can.”