Her parents, Shelby and Jonathan, initially thought that their daughter Sophie was suffering from allergies when she got sick. Sophie had a difficult time breathing, and the doctor suspected that it was asthma.
She was scheduled to take an allergy test a few days later, but Sophie never got to take it – the little girl completely stopped breathing one night.
Shelby and Jonathan immediately called an ambulance and they were promptly taken to the hospital. After a few tests, it was confirmed that Sophie was suffering neither from asthma nor allergies – it was much worse.
Her doctors found a softball-sized mass in Sophie’s chest. The little girl had T-cell lymphoma, a type of cancer. The family’s world turned upside down with the crushing news. It was every parent’s worst nightmare to see their child fighting for their life – but now, they are forced to live through it.
Unfortunately, aggressive chemotherapy didn’t stop the cancer from spreading. It took over Sophie’s ability to walk, talk, and use her hands, and eat. They were told that their child needed a stem-cell transplant to save her life.
Her parents spent every single day with Sophie in the hospital, taking care of her and making sure that she never feels alone.
During one of those days, Shelby took a picture of one of Sophie’s nurses and posted it on a Sophie The Brave, a Facebook page that she had created to document Sophie’s battle against the disease.
Her caption reads: “I see you. I sit on this couch all day long and, I see you. You try so hard to be unnoticed by me and my child. I see your face drop a little when she sees you and cries. You try so many ways to ease her fears and win her over. I see you hesitate to stick her or pull bandaids off. You say ‘No owies’ and ‘I’m sorry’ more times in one day than most people say ‘thank you’.”
“I see all of those rubber bracelets on your arms and wrapped around your stethoscope, each one for a child that you’ve cared for and loved. I see you carrying arm loads of medicine and supplies into one child’s room all while your phone is ringing in your pocket from the room of another. I see you put on gloves and a mask and try not to make too much noise at night.
I see you sorting piles of beads so you can give them to your patient to add to their ever growing milestone necklace. I see you stroke her little bald head and tuck her covers around her tightly. I see you holding the crying mom that got bad news. I see you trying to chart on the computer while holding the baby whose mom can’t-or won’t be at the hospital with her.”
“You put aside what’s happening in your life for 12 hours straight to care for very sick and something’s dying children. You go into each room with a smile no matter what’s happening in there. You see Sophie’s name on the schedule and come to check on us even when she isn’t your patient.
You call the doctor, blood bank, and pharmacy as many times as necessary to get my child what she needs in a timely manner. You check on me as often as you check on her. You sit and listen to me ramble for 10 minutes even though your phone is buzzing and your to do list is a mile long.”
“I see you using your phone as a template to paint the perfect cartoon character on the new kid’s window. I see you cheering so enthusiastically for the kid taking laps around the nurses station. I see you with that Nerf gun hiding from the kid around the corner. I see you hold tiny hands, change dirty sheets, translate medical talk for parents, and wipe your eyes coming out of a particularly hard room. I see you put on gloves, masks, and a gown then pause before you hang an IV bag of poison chemo for my kid.”
“I see you. We all see you. No amount of snack baskets or cards can fully express how appreciated you are. You are Jesus to us every single day. Our children wouldn’t get what they need without you. Moms like me wouldn’t feel sane or heard without you. You save our babies and we couldn’t do this without you.”
Shelby’s heartfelt tribute resonated not just with the pediatric nurses that she wrote it for, but also with other parents of severely ill children who were able to relate with Shelby and Jonathan’s experiences. They too believe that these hardworking nurses do so much for their children, and they deserve every amount of gratitude that they can get.
Unfortunately, Sophie’s weak body couldn’t tolerate any more of the aggressive treatment. She relapsed on December 22, 2017, and her parents decided to withdraw treatment. They didn’t want to put their daughter through so much pain and suffering ever again.
Shelby and Jonathan got to spend 13 more days with Sophie – days that were filled with singing, reading, watching movies, and cuddling – before their daughter gained her angel wings on January 4, 2018.
Shelby says: ”My goal through this entire process has been to be transparent and honest and shine light on what really goes on during a battle against cancer. I haven’t sugarcoated the bad days but, I’ve also been able to show the great work the Lord has done throughout this. I hope to continue to do that as we continue on without her.”
In this busy and fast-paced world that we live in, it has become so easy for most of us to rush through life that we almost forget to cherish it. Sophie’s story is a reminder to all of us that we should live our days the best way possible, because we never know when our last will be.
It also reminds us to acknowledge our carers and helpers when we are sick – the nurses and hospital staff – who cry with us when we grieve and smile with us when we rejoice.
So let us live, laugh, and love like there is no tomorrow, and remember all the cancer patients who have fought – and are fighting – their battles courageously. We are in awe of your bravery, and we all pray that you find healing in the days to come.