“We might outta talk about y’all going up and getting our stuff and actually closing Browntown down,” patriarch Billy, 64, tells his children during Wednesday’s emotional episode of the Discover reality series after revealing that Ami, 53, has stage 3, possibly stage 4, cancer — an event that was filmed just eight weeks ago.
But leaving their home in rural Alaska so Ami can be closer to hospitals is not something the Brown family — including sons Matt, 34, Bam, 32, Bear, 30, Gabe, 27, and Noah, 24, and daughters Snowbird, 22, and Rain, 14 — consider lightly.
For more than three decades, the Brown family has lived wild in the remote Alaskan bush, achieving their dream of a permanent homestead, Browntown, in just the past few years.
“It’s much deeper than a simple question, making those that like it there so much Bear and Bird and the others — making them sacrifice that for me … ‘ ” Ami says before letting her thoughts trail off into silence. “We’ve lived a long time in the rainforest. It flows through our veins.”
“Ami of course is really heartbroken,” adds Billy. “We have members of the family that their future dreams were there. They were born in the forest and I think it’s deeper in them than I think it is in Ami and I.”
Bird immediately says she needs “a minute” while Matt admits he is in “shock” and “denial.”
“We fought so hard for freedom and we fought so hard for independence and everything that gave us the freedom we’ve had our whole life, now is working against us,” Billy says of the need to be closer to medical resources.
Later in the episode, Matt leaves Southern California — where some of the family had temporarily relocated while Ami underwent tests — to inform his brother youngest brother, Noah, of the news.
“The hardest part of all this is knowing that I can’t fix it,” Noah says. “I can’t do anything. I’m useless.”
So Noah makes plans to pack up his things — burning or giving away anything he’s not going to take with him to the “lower 48” — and go to his mother while Matt stays behind to wait for the other siblings to come retrieve their things.
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“Every moment I’m not there is a moment I’m not going to have with her and a moment I won’t get for a memory later,” he says. “But the entire family pulls through tough times with three things: with God, with family and the people who love you.”
“The funny thing is, I don’t like hugs,” he adds. “And right now all I want to do is give my mom a hug and tell her that it’s okay.”
Alaskan Bush People airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Discovery.