Avery Smith (center) holds the book "Listen to Me" that was written by Beth Huffman (right). The story tells about Kim (Brinkman) Smith's struggles with her own cancer and her daughter's hearing impairment. ALso in the book is Kim's mother Jackie Brinkman (left).
Avery Smith (center) holds the book "Listen to Me" that was written by Beth Huffman (right). The story tells about Kim (Brinkman) Smith's struggles with her own cancer and her daughter's hearing impairment. ALso in the book is Kim's mother Jackie Brinkman (left).

COLUMBUS GROVE - "Why me?"

It is a question not many would blame then 16-year-old Kim Brinkman (now Smith) for asking.

"Why me?" asked Kim. "I'm in a class of 70, I'm only 16, why does this have to be me?"

Kim was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease at the age of 16 and given a 75 percent chance of surviving. She was also told that the likelihood of having children had all but diminished.

Kim not only defeated her cancer but she also went on to have a child named Avery.

"I never once doubted I would have children," said Kim. "I just always knew I was meant to have children and even though all of the other things the doctor said would come true-the hair loss and getting sick from the chemo-I always believed I would have children one way or another."

Kim's struggle wasn't over there, however. Avery, was born with a hearing impairment.

"For the first three years I was in denial," said Kim. "I didn't want to have to hand over my child to the Lord's path so soon. We know as parents we have to lay our child before God but I felt with my parents they had until I was 16 when they had to do that. And here I was from day one and I didn't want to face that there was something wrong."

Kim credits her mother in helping her push her in the right direction.

"We were always supportive of Kim but we knew that something had to be done," said Kim's mother, Jackie Brinkman.

"My mom told me that I can't seem embarrassed or that it wasn't normal because we didn't want Avery to feel that way either," explains Kim.

The audiologist explained that Avery would never speak clearly unless she wore hearing aids.

It is Kim's incredible story that brought local author Beth Huffman back into the world of writing.

"I told myself that I would not be writing another book," said Huffman.

It was a meal with Kim and an encounter with Avery that changed her mind.

"Once she finished the treatments and started to feel better, we had lunch at Red Lobster and she looked so pretty in her ball cap that covered her bald head," remembered Huffman. "I felt privileged to be spending time with a hero, whose steadfast faith in God was emboldened with each new trial she faced. I remember saying, 'You should write a book about your life one day, Kim. It would be such an inspiration for others.'"

Years later, she found out Avery had hearing aids.

"When I saw her hair pulled back I saw her hearing aids and before that I had no idea," said Huffman. "After that I couldn't get her image out of my mind."

After a conversation with her husband in which he asked, "What do you want to do?" she decided to write Listen to Me.

Throughout Kim's struggle, folks with lesser constitutions would have continued to ask the question Kim had from the onset, "Why me?"

"When I was really sick and feeling awful and when we had to come to terms with Avery's hearing impairment, I kept asking God that question," said Kim. "But then God really spoke to me and, like a smack to the face, He answered my question and I really made it my thing throughout this whole ordeal...

...Why not me?"