FAIRMONT - It was a Saturday morning in early May. The Brockmann family was entertaining company, and they spent a wonderful day playing at the park, working on a building project, and generally having a great time.
Brothers Jack, 6; Ben, 4; and Sam, 18 months, played and kept busy, helping the grown-ups and running around.
So the next morning, when Ben woke up with pain in his legs, his mom, Shauna, assumed it was growing pains and asked her Facebook friends for tips on helping relieve the pain.
Ben Brockmann and his mom, Shauna, entertain themselves while Ben awaits treatment for cancer at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.
But it soon became clear that what was ailing Ben was more than just growing pains. He refused to walk and cried about the pain - something very uncharacteristic for him.
"We knew something was wrong," Shauna said. "We just didn't know what."
A warm bath helped a little - in hindsight the water took the pressure off his bones - but Shauna soon decided to take her son to the hospital. The Brockmanns, who live in Lake Crystal, drove to their doctor in New Ulm.
Doctors assumed Ben had a virus and told his mother to take him home and keep an eye on him.
Ben spent that night whimpering and throwing up, so the next day they headed back.
After a day of testing without conclusive results, Ben was admitted to stay overnight in the hospital.
The next morning, his doctor delivered bad news.
"She came in and said, 'We are going to helicopter you to Children's [Hospital in Minneapolis]. We think it is cancer.' I was shocked and numb," Shauna said. "I remember praying, 'Please God, let them be wrong.'"
But within an hour of landing in Minneapolis, doctors confirmed the diagnosis. Leukemia was found in little Ben's blood.
That was Tuesday. By Thursday, Ben had a port inserted to administer chemotherapy, and the Brockmanns' foray into the world of childhood cancer commenced.
Ben began treatment with a spinal tap, 28 days of steroids, and a bone marrow scan.
He is now in remission, going weekly to Children's Hospital for chemo.
At home, he has his good days and bad. His older brother helps him when he has trouble walking, and keeps up his spirits.
"It is good for Ben," Shauna said. "Some days Ben just feels like laying on the couch, and Jack will say, 'Come out and play tractors with me.'"
Ben has had to stay home from pre-school this year, as his body is susceptible to illness while he undergoes treatment.
The treatments will last for 36 months, as the chemo works to keep Ben's body from making new cancer cells.
To help the family with the ongoing costs associated with the next three years, a benefit in Ben's honor will be held Sunday at the Knights of Columbus in Fairmont. Dad Scott Brockmann is originally from Granada. The benefit is a hog roast and silent auction.
Shauna said the benefit comes at a good time, as September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.
"Scott and I, along with our families and friends, were thrown into this world with little knowledge of what it's all about," she wrote on Ben's CaringBridge website. "We are definitely still learning but one of the biggest realizations is that there is little awareness and very little funding for more research for childhood cancers."
Those who cannot attend but wish to make a monetary donation can send a check to:
Ben Brockmann Benefit
c/o Wells Fargo Bank
206 East Hickory St.
Mankato, MN 56001