Sophie was two years old until May 18, 2017.
When she got ill, her parents Shelby and Jonathan thought their two-year-old daughter had allergies.
She had trouble breathing and her doctor suspected she had asthma. But it soon became clear that things were much worse than they thought.
Sophie was supposed to undergo an allergic test a few days later. But she never did the test.
She stopped breathing one night.
It was the worst nightmare of any parent. Shelby and Jonathan called an ambulance. Minutes later they were on their way to the hospital.
It was only there when the doctors confirmed that Sophie suffered from something far worse than allergies or asthma.
The doctors discovered a tumor slightly larger than a tennis ball in Sophie’s little chest. She developed cancer of T cell lymphoma. The little girl suddenly was in battle for her life.
Unfortunately, aggressive chemotherapy didn’t stop the cancer from spreading. The treatments affected Sophie’s ability to walk, talk, use her hands and eat.
When little Sophie struggled for her life, her parents spent countless hours with their daughter in the hospital.
Sophie’s mother Shelby didn’t leave her daughter’s bed. Shelby’s only concern was Sophie and how she was being treated.
Her weak body needed a bone marrow transplant.
In this difficult and chaotic situation, the mother noticed a nurse who tried not to be noticed, but Shelby watched her.
After taking a picture of the nurse with her back to her, Shelby published the photo on a Facebook page that the parents set up to document Sophie’s struggle against the disease.
“I see you”, Shelby wrote, revealing that she had seen everything the nurse was doing for her daughter.
Mother Shelby wrote:
“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 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. 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 moving message touched not only the nurses for whom she wrote the post, but also other parents who had similar experiences and saw sisters as the backbone of the children’s department.
The work of these sisters is hard to imagine, and they live in the worst times of their lives, over and over, every day anew.
Unfortunately, Sophie did not grow up and say “thank you” to all the nurses who fought for her life.
Her small body could not cope with the treatments and the aggressive cancer.
On December 22, 2017, the cancer returned strongly, and the family decided to stop the treatments.
The parents Shelby and Jonathan were given 13 days of cuddling, reading, singing, watching movies, and love until Sophie died in their arms on January 4, 2018.
“My goal during this process was to be transparent and honest and to shed light on what really happens during the war on cancer.. I wanted to show the bad days as they are, but I could also show the wonderful work that God did in this process. I wish to continue doing this as we continue our life without her”, Shelby said.
Cancer is really the worst thing we can think of. Especially when it harms children.
Sophie’s story is a reminder to all of us to live every day as if he were the last. To love as if there was no tomorrow.
Her story also shows how wonderful the nurses and other staff in the hospital, and how they deserve to be recognized.
They help, play, tell stories, give advice and consolation, touch countless lives, and care not only for their little patients, but also for their family.
They enter a battle that most of us try to avoid. And they do this day after day to one family after another.
Share the words of mother Shelby on the nurses in the hospital so that more people can read about the amazing work they do.