"Hi," the 7-year-old says. "I'm gonna teach you about me."
She goes on:
I have a rare disease called juvenile dermatomyositis. It's really painful. You can kinda -- you can't walk. So be strong. Cause it's hard. And if you're not strong, then you'll die. And I know that people don't want to die, especially when they're young.
I got diagnosed when I was 4 years old. It's been hard since then. But since then, I've been strong and I've got through. And that's all that matters. I'm still alive, I'm still strong and I am happy. That's all that matters.
She blows a kiss before delivering a devastatingly deadpan signoff: "Let's hope you're strong, too."
Brookelyn's mother, Brooke -- who posted the video on Facebook last Thursday -- spoke to HuffPost Parents by phone about how the footage came to be.
In recent months, Brookelyn hasn't wanted other people to know about her disease, Brooke said. "She was embarrassed and felt that she was different," Brooke said, explaining that when a picture of her daughter throwing out the first pitch at a minor-league baseball game made it into a business journal, Brookelyn's response was: "Oh great, now everybody's gonna know my secret."
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center defines JDM as an autoimmune disease "that causes skin rash (dermato) and muscle inflammation (myositis) resulting in weak muscles" and affects between 3,000 and 5,000 children under 16 in the U.S. It cannot be cured, but with treatments, Cincinnati Children's says, "the majority of children grow up to lead an active, productive life."
"We sat down and had the conversation about how this is not who she is, it's just a part of who she is -- and there's no reason to be embarrassed by it and it's not a bad thing ... it's just the hand that she's been dealt," Brooke said. Then, Brookelyn disappeared for a little while, and came back with the video she had made on her mom's phone.
Brooke said she had no idea what she was about to see before pressing play.
"She videotapes our dog all the time, so that's what I expected to be watching, and I was quite blown away when I saw her video. ... I didn't even have any words when she brought it down to me."
It was the video's content, in addition to the fact that Brookelyn had made it, that surprised Brookelyn's mom. Brooke said she had never really spoken to her daughter about the possibility of death from JDM -- although through Facebook, they know of other children with the disease who have died -- so to hear Brookelyn discuss it was "a little bit of a shocker."
"I think she just internalizes these things that she hears. I guess nobody knows how much they actually take in and how they're going to respond to it," Brooke said.
Kevin McKeever, whose wife is the chairman of the Cure JM Foundation, tweeted the video last week. According to the foundation's website, juvenile myositis encompasses three variations: juvenile dermatomyositis, amyopathic dermatomyositis and juvenile polymyositis. McKeever told HuffPost over email that the video was "such an honest, heartfelt view of realities and fears of juvenile myositis ... that I felt I had to share it with others."
Though [my daughter] Megan is now 13 and coping well with the disease, she spent many months in the hospital when first diagnosed at age 2 1/2. She lost the ability to walk, to sit up and even to effectively swallow food and drink for months. It is a scary reality for a parent to face, and more people -- especially doctors, researchers and drug companies -- need to hear stories like Brooke[lyn]'s and Megan's to understand that while juvenile myositis is a rare disease, it is a potentially devastating one that needs more attention.
As for the video's impactful but ambiguous kicker -- "Let's hope you're strong, too." -- Brooke said she doesn't know if it was meant for her individually, or a more general audience.
Perhaps the best explanation comes from Brookelyn herself. The little girl told us: "I just felt like [making the video] because I wanted people to know how I felt so that they would have an idea of what their kids are having trouble with." Asked whom she made the video for, she said with confidence: "Everybody."
Also on HuffPost:
Chance Of Having Twins Skyrockets
In January, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/chances-of-having-twins_n_1183674.html">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> reported that the numbers of twins in the U.S. has jumped in the last three decades: In 2009, 1 in every 30 babies born in the U.S. was a twin, compared to just 1 in every 53 in 1980. Why? Chalk it up to more and more couples using assisted reproductive technology, as well as an increase in women waiting to have kids until their 30s when the odds of having twins increases,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/chances-of-having-twins_n_1183674.html"> AP said.</a>
U.S. Autism Rate Up
In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new figures on autism spectrum disorder in the U.S. and they were up: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/30/autism-rate-increase-repo_n_1390721.html">1 in 88 children</a> is now believed to have autism, compared to the previous estimate of 1 in 110. Experts attribute much of the increase to better screening and diagnosis, AP reported, but that does not mean the findings aren't cause for concern. "Autism is now officially becoming an epidemic in the United States," Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks, said at a news conference.
1 in 13 Women Drink During Pregnancy
A <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/alcohol-during-pregnancy-_n_1686953.html">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> survey from July found that 1 in 13 pregnant women in the U.S. drink alcohol. And of those who said they drank, 1 in 5 admitted to going on at least one binge -- having four or more drinks at once. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/22/drinking-alcohol-pregnant-effects-children_n_1822880.html">A study</a> that came out a month later found that drinking during pregnancy has long-lasting effects on children's size.
Batteries Can Pose Serious Risk To Kids
More and more kids are swallowing batteries, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found, sending thousands of children to the ER each year. Between 1997 and 2010, nearly 30,000 kids up to age 4 were taken to the emergency room for battery related injuries, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/swallowed-batteries-kids_n_1844412.html">MyHealthNewsDaily reported</a> in August. More than half of the cases involved small, circular button batteries.
AAP Throws Support Behind Circumcision
In August, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/27/new-circumcision-guidelin_n_1826069.html">American Academy of Pediatrics</a> -- the U.S.' major pediatrics organization -- revised its policy on infant male circumcision, saying that the health benefits outweigh the risks. But the new guideline stopped short of recommending it routinely, stating instead that it should simply be available to parents who choose it for their sons. To the great surprise of no one, the policy was an immediate source of debate, with one "intactivist" leader <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/27/new-circumcision-guidelin_n_1826069.html">telling HuffPost</a> that the AAP had failed to address what she called the "real risks and harms of circumcision."
Breastfeeding Is On The Rise
Also in August, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/02/breastfeeding-rates-cdc_n_1734381.html">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> announced that more moms in the U.S. are breastfeeding their babies. Some 47 percent of moms breastfed their babies for at least six months in 2009 (the latest year for which there is data). That's up from 44 percent the year before. "The headlines 10 years back were, 'Mothers don't breastfeed enough; Is something wrong with mothers?'"Dr. Alison Stuebe, an OB-GYN and assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/02/breastfeeding-rates-cdc_n_1734381.html">told HuffPost</a>. "We've recognized that this is crazy. Let's fix the system rather than going after moms.'"
More Kids Taking Antipsychotics
The number of kids and teens being prescribed antipsychotics has soared, an August study in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/antipsychotics-adhd-study_n_1760602.html">Archives of General Psychiatry</a> found. Psychiatrists now prescribe the drugs in one out of every three office visits with children, and increasingly for off label use -- namely, the treatment of ADHD. The latter in particular, experts <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/antipsychotics-adhd-study_n_1760602.html">told HuffPost</a>, is cause for serious concern: "Although antipsychotic medications can deliver rapid improvement in children with severe conduct problems and aggressive behaviors, it is not clear whether they are helpful for the larger group of children with ADHD," study author Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, said.
Laughing Gas Safe For Delivering Moms
Nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, is a good way for women to manage some of the pain that accompanies labor, a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/laughing-gas-delivery_n_1881496.html">Cochrane review</a> from September said. Though it's not at all popular here in the U.S. -- only 1 percent of women use laughing gas during birth, compared to the 60 percent of women who have an epidural during vaginal delivery -- the review concluded that it is both effective and safe for mom and baby.
Sleep Training is Safe
Though sleep training can be a source of contention among parents and parenting experts alike, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/infant-sleep-training_n_1865767.html">an Australian study</a> published in September concluded that two of the most popular methods are perfectly safe. "Controlled comforting" (basically a modified form of cry-it-out) and "camping out" (when parents sit in the room with their babies and pat or comfort them, but do not feed or cuddle them to sleep), did not have any impact -- good or bad -- on children when researchers looked at them at age 6.
Birth Complications Up In the U.S.
They're still rare, but severe complications from birth are on the rise in the U.S., <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/us-birth-complications_n_2008771.html">Reuters reported</a> back in October. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that between 1998 and 2009, the rate of major complications, including things like severe bleeding and kidney failure, essentially doubled. Though <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/us-birth-complications_n_2008771.html">experts stressed</a> that most women who give birth are perfectly fine, there has been an increase in women giving birth at older ages, as well as women who are obese or have certain health conditions that up their risk, such as high blood pressure.
Boys Entering Puberty Earlier And Earlier
Research published in October in the journal <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/20/boys-puberty_n_1987979.html">Pediatrics</a> showed that boys in the U.S. are entering into puberty at ever earlier ages: On average, boys are starting puberty six months to two years sooner than previous data showed. The study, which is among the first to look at the issue of early-onset puberty in boys, found that white and Hispanic boys now start to show signs of puberty when they are 10, while African American boys may start to show signs when they are 9 years old. What exactly this means isn't yet clear, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/20/boys-puberty_n_1987979.html">study researchers said</a>, but it flags an issue that warrants further investigation.
Kids See 'Startling' Amounts Of Background TV
A lot of parents limit the amount of TV their kids watch each day, but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/01/children-tv-exposure-study_n_1923719.html">research published in October</a> found that many are nonetheless exposed to a lot of it -- in the background. The study, which ran in the journal <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/01/children-tv-exposure-study_n_1923719.html">Pediatrics,</a> found that kids are generally exposed to at least 4 hours of background TV per day (meaning it's on in the same room they're in, even if they're not watching directly) and children under the age of 2 are exposed to 5.5 hours every day.
Antidepressants May Carry Risks For Pregnant Women
A November study in the journal <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/antidepressants-pregnancy_n_2094155.html">Human Reproduction</a> caused quite a stir when it suggested that SSRIs, a type of antidepressants, may increase the risk of complications when taken during pregnancy. Problems include risk of miscarriage, birth defects, neurobehavioral problems and more, the study researchers said. But there was significant push back from many mental health experts who rushed to write letters to the editor saying that the study ignored the many risks of untreated depression.
Preterm Births Hit 10-Year Low
In November, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/us-preterm-birth-rate-hit_n_2118244.html">March of Dimes</a> released its annual preemie birth rate report card and, overall, the news was good: The U.S. preterm birth rate was the lowest it has been in a decade, dropping to 11.7 percent. While that is certainly welcome news, the U.S. still has a long way to go, March of Dimes experts <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/us-preterm-birth-rate-hit_n_2118244.html">told HuffPost.</a> Overall, the country still only earned a "C" and only four states (Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire and Maine) earned an "A."