My Journey as a Parent of a Child With Cancer
I will never forget that March day when our daughter Shannon was diagnosed with Leukemia. Knees trembling from fear and weakness, I knew I
had to be strong. The fact she was an adult and was going to be a mother in a few months herself seemed irrelevant. She was still my baby, number seven, in fact.
“Is this a dream?” I asked myself. Then, in an attempt to reassure myself, I answered. “Yes, I will wake up and everything will be normal,”
Still in disbelief when I awoke the next morning, I forced myself to get on the phone to retrieve their plan of action. However, one didn’t exist. No one in Joplin, MO felt competent to take her delicate case, due to her pregnancy. We ended up at KU Medical in Kansas City.
The first night there, my daughter, Shannon, was given a Bone Marrow Biopsy. The doctor informed her pain medication couldn’t be administered in order to protect her unborn child. This left me feeling helpless. I reminded myself of how I desired to be strong, but when they pulled out the biopsy instrument, I couldn’t bear to watch. I left. The tool reminded me of an ice pic only thicker with
a hook on the end, which is the part pushed into the lower middle section of the back.
Walking down the hall, I felt guilty. No matter how many steps I took, her screams from her room still reached my ears. Fists clenched, my pace slowed. Part of me wanted to run away completely. Frozen, I couldn’t go back, but did decide for future biopsies, I’d remain by her side. I would hold her hand and pray.
The next morning we met with the team of Doctors to hear the full diagnosis and to discuss the treatment plan. After a few days as much as Shannon needed me and I needed to be
with her, my husband, Lee, and I had to head home to go back to work selling real estate, & only visit on weekends. Concentration was almost impossible, but somehow, God’s strength saw me through.
The First Hurdle
After one month of treatment they decided to induce labor so we
were off to KU. Expecting to see our new grandchild soon, we slept on the hospital floor, not knowing Shannon’s inducement would drag out. After five grueling days, doctors performed a C-section. In spite of being six weeks early and enduring five chemo treatments with his mom, Kyler arrived healthy. We called him our miracle boy.
Having a sick daughter made it hard to leave before, but now, adding a grandson in the NICU made it heart-wrenching. I was thankful the trips home were long. This allowed me lots of time to pray. Many times over the next five months, I’d put on a Worship CD that would bring the tears flowing, allowing me to cry out to God.
One day I was in the doctor’s office, not too long after our first miracle of Kyler’s birth. The doctors were warning Shannon, “If the next round of chemo doesn’t work. I mean, if you’re not in remission by then, there’s nothing else we can do.” Dropping their heads, they quietly walked out.
As soon as the door closed, she looked
at me with those beautiful big brown eyes pleading, “Mommy, I do not want to die.”
Shoulders squared and my spine straight, I shot her a determined look. Speaking like a coach who knew they could win the game, I said, “Shannon you are not going to die!”.
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© 2017, Jena Fellers. All rights reserved.
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