One of Discovery's most popular reality shows has been hit with a family tragedy.
Alaskan Bush people follows the Brown family, who live a secluded life in Alaska. According to the network, the family is interesting because "they are unlike any other family in America." They're so far removed from civilization that it can be between 6 and 9 months before they interact with a member of the outside world. The Browns are in such isolation that they have their own accent and dialect.
At the beginning of season 7, Alaskan Bush People dropped a bombshell on viewers. Ami Brown, the matriarch, was suffering from advanced lung cancer.
“Once we got the call that it was cancer, part of me just, like, wanted to run away,” Bam Brown, 32. “But stronger than that was the emotion to get here and to see mom and do whatever I could to be moral support to everyone.”
“To see mom not wanting to get out of bed because it might hurt to walk around the room, that was really difficult,” he continues. “And then when I gave mom a hug, I felt how thin she was. So yeah, that hit me pretty hard. As prepared as I was to walk into the room and go into that, it’s different when you’re there.”
Now, Billy Brown, Ami's husband, is speaking out about his wife's illness and how it's affecting their lives.
“She doesn’t want to be a burden on someone,” Billy, 64, says of his wife. “That’s not Ami. Ami is to take the burden away and take care of everything, but she has to admit to herself that she can’t be that right now. It’s just time for us to pay it back to her right now, it’s all I think we can do.”
Since discovering Ami's cancer, the family decided to move from their homestead in Alaska to Southern California so she could receive the necessary treatment. Billy sat down with PEOPLE magazine for the first time since his wife's diagnosis to share how they are coping with Ami's illness as a family.
About moving to be able to get Ami care, Billy says it wasn't his decision.
"The kids really made that decision," he said. "We saw Ami slow down so fast. She started out 128 lbs. and she dropped to 89 really fast. Last winter was really hard on her. [Our son Bear] got really mad one day. I was pretty bad and mom was pretty bad and he started right then, “How long are we going to do this?” Once we knew what Ami had, Bear was adamant. We had talked about it before and when we sat down realized and made the decision, it wasn’t like it came out of nowhere. "
"I’m never more than 10-feet away from her," Billy says. "I don’t sleep. I don’t want to lose that time with her. I’ll stay up just watch her breathing while she sleeps. Eventually I’ll fall asleep watching her and then Bear will come in and sit with her until I’m up again."
As for Ami, her 3% survival rate is something she's aware of, but not something she focuses on.
"I realized early into this that it’s very easy to want to give up and just die. And on the pessimist side, it could be my last days. But I have the will to fight," said the wife and mother.
We wish nothing but the best for Ami and the rest of the Brown family. We hope God brings your family the peace it deserves.