Sophie was a normal and healthy 2-year-old until May 18, 2017.
When she fell ill, parents Shelby and Jonathan thought their 2-year-old daughter Sophie was suffering from allergies.
She struggled to breathe, and her doctor suspected asthma. But it would soon become clear that the situation was much worse.
Sophie was scheduled to undergo an allergy test a few days later. But she never made it to the test.
One night, she stopped breathing.
It’s every parent’s nightmare. Shelby and Jonathan rushed to call an ambulance. A few minutes later, they were on their way to the hospital.
It was only then that doctors could confirm Sophie was suffering from something much worse than asthma and allergies.
Doctors discovered a softball-sized mass in little Sophie’s chest. She had developed T-cell lymphoma. Cancer. The young girl was suddenly in the fight of her life.
Unfortunately, aggressive chemotherapy failed to halt the spread of her cancer. The treatments took a toll on Sophie’s ability to walk, talk, use her hands, and eat.
As little Sophie fought for her life, her parents spent countless hours by her side at the hospital.
Sophie’s mother, Shelby, stood vigilantly beside her daughter. Shelby cared only about Sophie and how she was treated.
Her weakened body needed a stem cell transplant.
In this chaotic and challenging situation, the mother noticed a special nurse constantly striving to go unnoticed. But Shelby was watching.
After taking a photo while the nurse had her back turned, Shelby posted the picture on the Facebook page the parents had created to document Sophie’s battle with the disease.
“I see you,” wrote Shelby, revealing everything she had witnessed during her daughter’s care.
Mom Shelby wrote:
“I see you. I sit on this couch all day long, and I see you. You try so hard to blend into the background and go unnoticed by my child and me.
I see your face pale just a little when she sees you and cries. You try in so many ways to ease her fears and win her over. I see you hesitate to prick her or remove bandages. You say ‘No worries’ and ‘I’m sorry’ more times in a day than most people say ‘thank you’…”
“I see all those rubber bracelets on your arms and wrapped around your stethoscope, each one for a child you’ve cared for and loved. I see you stroke her little bald head and tuck her in carefully. I see you holding the weeping mother who received bad news. I see you trying to work on the computer while holding the baby whose mother can’t or won’t be in the hospital with her.”
“You set aside what’s happening in your life for 12 straight hours to take care of very sick children and sometimes even dying ones. You enter every room with a smile, no matter what’s happening inside. You see Sophie’s name on your schedule and come see us even when she’s not your patient.”
“You call the doctor, the blood bank, and the pharmacy as many times as necessary to quickly get what my child needs. You watch over me as often as you watch over her. You sit and listen to me ramble for 10 minutes even when your phone is buzzing, and your to-do list is a mile long.”
“I see you. We all see you. No amount of gift baskets or cards can express how much you are appreciated. You are like Jesus to us every day. Our children wouldn’t have 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 it without you.”
Shelby’s heartfelt message touched not only the nurses for whom she wrote the post but also other parents who have had similar experiences and have seen that nurses are the backbone of the pediatric unit.
These nursing jobs are unimaginably challenging as they experience the worst moments of a parent’s life over and over every day.
Unfortunately, Sophie never had the chance to grow older and say “thank you” to all the nurses who fought to keep her alive.
Her tiny little body simply couldn’t withstand all the treatments and the aggressive cancer.
She relapsed again on December 22, 2017, and the family decided to stop the treatment. Sophie was done.
Parents Shelby and Jonathan spent 13 days cuddling her, reading, singing, watching movies, and loving her until Sophie’s passing on January 4, 2018, in their arms.
“My goal throughout this process has been to be transparent and honest and shed light on what really happens during a cancer battle. I didn’t skip over the bad days, but I was also able to show the excellent work the Lord did throughout all of this. I hope to continue doing so while moving forward without her,” says Shelby.
Cancer is truly the worst thing I can think of, especially when it targets children.
Sophie’s story is such a reminder to use all your days as if they were the last. To love as if there were no tomorrow.
Her story also shows that the incredible nurses and other hospital staff deserve recognition.
Healers, helpers, playmates, storytellers, counselors, and comforters, they touch countless lives, caring not only for their little patients but also for their entire families.
Voluntarily, they engage in a battle most of us pray to avoid. And they do it day after day for one family after another.
Share mom Shelby’s words about the pediatric staff and hospital personnel so that more people can read about the incredible work they do.