Published Apr 19, 2022
Ami Brown, matriarch of her family and star of the hit Discovery Channel television series Alaskan Bush People, has conquered a great deal of adversity thrown her way, but she continues to shine.
In April 2017, Ami was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer, and just a few years after beating the disease, her beloved husband, Billy Brown (also known as da), died last year at age 68 after suffering a seizure.
While these are two quite brutal blows so close in time to one another, Ami’s continuing to shine and learning to live her life without her husband physically with her, although he’s there in spirit.
She said on Alaskan Bush People: “Sad as it may be, da’s not right here with us, not physically, but we know in spirit he is. And we know what all da wanted — we have to go on, that’s what we do.”
According to sources, the mother of eight children is beginning a new chapter of her life with plans to build a barn for her animals — her late husband always wanted a big ranch.
“The dream hasn’t died nor has it changed,” Ami said.
She also recently celebrated her son Bear Brown’s wedding! Bear married Raiven Adams surrounded by their friends and family earlier this year.
While it may be difficult, Ami is a great example of how to keep going when faced adversity is stacked against you.
It was about five years ago when Ami Brown, now 58, was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer.
“I had some pain in my back,” she told People at the time. “Walking from the house to the garden, I would get winded. There were days I was just bedridden, but I just thought it was my arthritis. We were filming the show and at times it was all I could do to just stand there — I was in so much pain.”
“When we were shooting promo shots I told them, ‘There’s something wrong.’ In December (2016), I went to the dentist to get impressions made for new teeth and when they did a scan they noticed a little capsule. That’s how this all started.”
Ami’s cancer diagnosis led to the Brown family moving from rural Alaska — hence the show name, Alaskan Bush People — to a large estate in Washington state so Ami could be closer to her medical team.
Ami tells People of her health ordeal, “It was very scary, but I never gave up hope.”
Confirming Ami’s diagnosis, her oncologist, Dr. Deborah Wong of UCLA Medical Center, released a statement stating that “Amora Brown (of Alaskan Bush People) was diagnosed with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (cancer cells that form in the tissues of the lungs) in April 2017. Treatment for her cancer included a four-month course of chemotherapy with radiation. Her disease responded well to the treatment and she is now in remission.”
Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer, and the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. It can be particularly tricky to treat because often, symptoms do not show up until the cancer has spread to other organs.
There are two main types of lung cancer, which doctors group together based on how they act and how they’re treated: Non-small cell lung cancer (what Ami Brown was diagnosed with), the most common type and makes up about 85% of cases, and small cell lung cancer.
Smoking is most likely the first cause that comes to mind when thinking of lung cancer. And it’s true that smoking causes most cases of this cancer, yet almost 20% of people who die from lung cancer in the U.S. each year have never smoked or used any other form of tobacco. While it’s whether Ami smoked, we say that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer, regardless of if you’ve smoked or not.
It’s hard to lose anyone you’re close to in life, especially a spouse. What can be even harder is continuing to live your life, like expanding a ranch, and mark milestones, such as getting married, again after losing that person.
A wedding is a happy time, but it can be hard when you’re missing someone who’s since passed; in Bear Brown’s case, he wished his dad Billy Brown, another star of Alaskan Bush People, could’ve been at his wedding. But remembering all the wonderful ways your loved one enriched your life while they were alive and moving on from there can be such a powerful way to move forward and honor them. In other words, milestones matter.
Milestones matter for cancer survivors, such as Ami Brown, too. But it’s important to remember that Ami lost someone as well — her husband. And moving on from that loss is extremely difficult, but it’s important to do so in order to honor that person, just as she’s doing by expanding their family ranch.
Chrissy Degennaro was diagnosed with multiple myeloma when she was 36 years old, and has been battling the disease for more than a decade now. Due to her cancer, Chrissy didn’t expect to make it to important milestones with her family — such as seeing her 2-year-old son start school. But she continues to mark milestones each year.
“I do live one day at a time,” Chrissy previously told SurvivorNet. “Now, maybe I can go a week, a month, but things are looking pretty good. I’m able to be here for more milestones for my son, for more holidays, more birthdays. I do feel like I have had another chance at life.”