• The Brown family experienced a sudden and unforgiving loss of patriarch Billy Brown in October 202•
• Ami Brown was also diagnosed with cancer in early 2017 and went through a four-month course of chemotherapy.
• Bird Brown, the oldest daughter, was diagnosed with pre-cancerous tumors on her ovaries which was successful removed.
• Bird is recommended to undergo a hysterectomy to remove the risk of cancer returning but it would prevent her from conceiving children.
• Ami wrote a letter to Bird providing strength and hope for her to make the decision.
Ever since the series “Alaskan Bush People” began airing in May 2014, the world has known and cared about the Brown family, who live in the deep wilderness of the 49th state. Far from any means of communication with modern society, they only have one another. Naturally, that sort of lifestyle makes dangerous illnesses a lot more frightening. The prospect of losing one of the only people you see all year, every year, seems like a great emotional toll.
This fear is something that the Brown family experienced first-hand very recently, which came as an even greater shock following the tragic loss of the father, Billy Brown, who suffered a sudden and unforgiving seizure at North Star Ranch in October 2021, at the age of 68. His passing came as a shock to everyone, since there was no indication at the time that his health had deteriorated to the point of a fatal outcome.
That said, Billy definitely did have heart issues, having been in and out of the hospital for a few years prior, when his condition was evidently abysmal. He was advised by the doctors to stay off high altitudes, since the oxygen there is too thin for his heart to be able to pump as regularly as he needed. He continued trekking through the Alaskan wilderness with his family in spite of the warnings, having decided not to indulge in the life of a relatively normal man in his late ‘60s.
In the October 31 episode of the show, there was a segment in which a member of the filming crew was dialing 911 to try and get Billy urgent help during a seizure, at which point even CPR was performed by one of the bystanders. Unfortunately, the help came far too late, and the Brown family had lost its patriarch.
The representatives of the show released a statement about the tragedy to Fox News, stating that they ‘are devastated to hear of Billy Brown’s sudden passing. He has been part of the Discovery family for years – a trailblazer, a lovely man and most definitely one of a kind. Our heart is with his family and those that knew him and loved him as they deal with this devastating loss.’
The scene itself was horrific as well, with multiple of Billy’s children yelling ‘Wake up! Wake up!’ as he lay motionless. The local sheriff’s deputy quickly got to the residence as well, and later revealed a few details, stating that ‘I was informed everyone inside was family, with the exception of three people who were with the production crew and had been on scene from shortly after the medical emergency occurred.’
He quickly gathered the information that the medical team would require to be able to provide Billy assistance to the best of their ability, such as his general medical background and the type of medication he normally took. He provided all the medical knowledge related to Billy to the coroner immediately upon his arrival, but that wasn’t much help in saving the life that was already lost.
Their son Bear also took to social media to lament his father’s death, saying ‘We are heartbroken to announce that our beloved patriarch Billy Brown passed away last night after suffering from a seizure.’ The text, lined alongside the picture of Billy and Amy further said ‘He was our best friend – a wonderful and loving dad, granddad and husband and he will be dearly missed. He lived his life on his terms, off the grid and off the land and taught us to live like that as well. We plan to honor his legacy going forward, and to continue with his dream.’
Sadly enough, Billy’s life could’ve potentially been spared, had the call initially made by Bear Brown gotten through, but it somehow got stuck in the network, which he complained about right after his father’s death. To make matters worse, this took place in front of Billy’s underage grandchildren, who definitely had no idea what was going on.
One of the female crew members of the production team also said ‘Hi, I have someone not breathing. I need an ambulance like, as soon as possible,’ after which she gave them the Brown’s home address in Washington. She learned of Billy’s passing because Bear told her, and that seems natural as well, since the two are good friends.
Billy was supposed to be flown out to a hospital when this happened, but according to the Washington Sheriff’s Office, he passed away in his house right after CPR was performed, rendering the flying vehicle irrelevant. His daughter Rain was inconsolable as well, writing ‘God bless you dad I love and miss you dearly. You will always be my hero. God bless everyone.’
Before Billy discovered he had heart problems, he first thought it was lung cancer. This was mostly due to the fact that those who suffer from either have difficulty breathing, but the reasons for that issue are very different. The Brown patriarch left behind nine children – five sons and four daughters, as well as a spouse and three grandchildren.
Cancer continues to plague the Brown family
On the spouse topic, it was early 2017 when Ami Brown was diagnosed with cancer herself. Although fear and panic among their children and grandchildren was evident, the old couple still enjoyed the little things together, which allowed them to live each day to the fullest.
From hunts to homesteading, the heart and soul of the Wolfpack is mother Ami Brown. Watch a special Alaskan Bush People tonight at 9 on Discovery and Discovery GO.
Posted by Alaskan Bush People on Sunday, September 29, 2019
It took almost a year for her to force the illness into remission, as its reduction looked evident, seeing how much chemotherapy she went through. Her weight dramatically reduced to approximately 77lbs (35kgs), which was quite hard to bear for everyone except Ami herself, who held on strongly throughout the ordeal.
Later down the line she said ‘It’s going to be a part of my life forever. But I want to encourage people to enjoy every moment and walk every moment with God because He knows what it’s about. Never give up faith.’ Meanwhile, her doctor stated ‘Amora Brown was diagnosed with Stage III non-small cell lung cancer in April 2017. Treatment for her cancer included a four-month course of chemotherapy with radiation.’
Thankfully it all seemed to work out, as the doctor finished his statement with ‘Her disease responded well to the treatment, and according to her UCLA oncologist Dr. Deborah Wong, she is now in remission.’
She was warned, however, that the illness could make a return at any time, and continues to be monitored in late 2022, especially after a year and a half of horrendous events. Her sons and daughters remain worried, but hopeful that she will at least outlive their father.
Bird’s close encounter with tumors
As if the previous trouble wasn’t already enough, Ami and Billy’s eldest daughter, 27-year old Amora Jean Snowbird Brown, also known simply as Bird Brown, appeared at the start of the show’s 14th season as a bed-ridden emotional wreck. The fans unfortunately got to witness yet another Brown facing the possibility of an inoperable carcinoma.
It all started with a little stomachache throughout the filming of season 14, which at the time didn’t seem like anything dangerous. The pain kept growing by orders of magnitude, however, and Bird had to be admitted urgently to hospital. The doctors quickly diagnosed pre-cancerous tumors on her ovaries, which grew into a large cyst that pushed against her stomach and intestines, causing significant pain.
The surgery was successful, but a lot of fear remains in the family concerning her situation. Bird said ‘I know that God has a plan, as scary as this is, but when looking down and knowing that’s a tumor, it’s hard not to worry about it. I hate to admit it, but I just can’t quit crying because I just don’t know anymore.’
Although the ordeal itself was emotionally quite taxing on everyone, the joy in the misfortune is that there was no immediate risk of cancer. Both of the tumors were non-cancerous, so Bird won’t have to undergo chemotherapy or anything of that sort, which would’ve been far more cumbersome.
In spite of that, there remains a 50 percent chance for the reappearance of tumors on her ovaries, which could well be cancerous and pose a serious threat to her life. The only way for Bird to get rid of this risk is to undergo an hysterectomy, as well as a trachelectomy, which translates to the complete surgical removal of the uterus and cervix, while her ovaries and fallopian tubes may have to go as well.
While such a step would definitely pull her out of the woods, and fully placate the fear of cancer for a long time, Brown is still unsure whether to proceed, as this surgery would also permanently remove her ability to conceive. The Brown family has traditional Christian values, and being unable to produce offspring is definitely looked down on in their belief system. Although reluctantly, Bird may just have to opt for never becoming a mother, to save her own life.
The situation also came as a massive shock to her husband Raiven Adams, whom she had fancied for a long time prior to starting the relationship and eventually marrying. He, like all other men in the Brown household, wishes for progeny and a blissful family life. It remains to be seen how he takes her future decision.
Ami Brown’s reaction to the grim news
As anxiety and dread washed over the Browns with newfound knowledge of Bird’s condition and the looming surgery ahead, most family members expressed great worry and a tinge of hopelessness, but not the most experienced cancer survivor, Ami.
She instead wrote a letter to Bird right after they found out that she had tumorous cysts on her ovaries, pending removal, knowing how scared her eldest daughter might feel. The 27-year-old read it out loud, sitting on top of a rock in the Alaskan wilderness, with only a few crew members there to document the experience.
The letter starts with ‘Dear sweet Birdy babe, I know that you have a yearning inside of you, something that you are searching for, because you probably feel empty within your soul, like something is missing.’ It’s important to note that this writing comes not even two years after the patriarch was lost to a seizure, and his absence is deeply interwoven within the family.
It further reads ‘You know that place more now, and more often than you did before, because that place now seems large and empty, for the laughter of his voice.’ Bird could barely continue reading, choking up at the close of every subsequent sentence. What’s most important, though, is Ami’s reassurance that everything will turn out for the better.
She wrote ‘I believe that I do have a clue, that on your long and gloomy days, and sleepless nights, may fill the hole and help you make it through. My sweet darling butterfly, it is you.’ As Bird explained later in the show, ‘It has brought me some clarity for sure, ‘cuz there’s a part in the letter that mom says the way to fill the hole is me.’
Rain is having a hard time during their Alaska trip, and Bird checks in 🤍
Watch #AlaskanBushPeople TONIGHT at 8p ET on @Discovery. pic.twitter.com/4yPCcEzUQ8
— Alaskan Bush People (@AlaskanBushPPL) November 13, 2022
It appears that Ami’s message got through to the one who most needs to understand it, since Bird concluded ‘I think she’s just trying to tell me that I need to believe in myself more, and that the answer isn’t necessarily something that anybody else can give me, but myself.’
After giving Bird the strength she needed most in the worrisome hospital days ahead, Ami ended her letter with ‘Good night my child. Have a peaceful sleep, with great love. I shall love you always more. Peace, love and happiness.’ This gesture ended up being what finally got her daughter to muster the courage, and proceed with the much needed surgery, which turned out quite successfully.
However, in late 2022, it’s yet to be seen whether Bird will choose to undergo the hysterectomy, as the decision could go either way. Some have speculated that she may just try and wait until giving her husband at least one child, after which she would probably feel a lot more at ease, giving up on further progeny.