Shelby and Jonathan have a daughter named Sophie who is currently fighting for her life. When the sweet little two-year-old wasn’t feeling well, Shelby thought it was just allergies.
A follow-up appointment with the doctor didn’t uncover anything concerning and she was diagnosed with asthma. Shelby scheduled Sophie for allergy testing but one night, Sophie stopped breathing.
The Skiles family followed her in the ambulance to the hospital and that’s where their world changed forever. Doctors discovered a softball-sized mass in tiny Sophie’s chest.
The toddler was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma and has spent months enduring terribly aggressive chemotherapy treatments. Even though Sophie’s body fought hard, her cancer still spread.
The chemotherapy has impacted her ability to walk, talk, use her hands and eat. She’s currently undergoing therapy to prepare her weakened body for a stem cell transplant.
Sometimes the days run together and Shelby forgets to take care of herself, since she’s so busy looking out for Sophie. To keep family and friends informed of Sophie’s progress and to have some semblance of contact with the world outside the hospital room, Shelby set up a Facebook page called Sophie the Brave.
It was one particular post Shelby shared that has since gone viral. Moms with sick ones everywhere have rallied behind Shelby for what she’s said about the nurses.
“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 Band-Aids off. You say ‘No owies’ and ‘I’m sorry’ more times in one day than most people say ‘thank you.'”
Shelby shared that she watches the nurses carry armloads of medicine and supplies into one ill child’s room while their phones are ringing for help in another room. She sees them sorting piles of beads for patients so they can add to their milestone necklaces.
“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.”
Shelby credited the nurses who pop by and visit her daughter even if she isn’t their patient and for sitting with parents facing the unknown when their own on-the-job to-do list never stops growing. Their phones are used as templates when painting cartoon characters on patient’s windows; they are cheerleaders for the kids taking cautious 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 en IV bag of poison chemo for my kid.”
Absolutely no amount of snack baskets or cards will ever communicate just how appreciative she is for what the nurses have done for her daughter and all other ill children Shelby’s met along Sophie’s journey. The nurses are the backbone of the peds floor.
“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.”
So far, Shelby’s post has been shared more than 25,000 times and garnered more than 48,000 reactions. Nurses everywhere are touched by Shelby’s heartfelt sentiment and emotional outpouring of support and gratitude for their profession.
Pediatric nurses in particular not only have sick patients, but they have tiny sick patients who should be running and playing, jumping and giggling, smiling and healthy. Pediatric nurses are among the most stoic individuals with an unimaginably difficult job to carry out.
Shelby noted that nurses not only care about their pint-sized patients, but they also look out for the family members, too. She herself has been the recipient of love and concern from Sophie’s nurses.
“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.”
These medical professionals are both healers and helpers, playmates and storytellers. They are blessings to the families who are relying heavily upon them.
The Skiles family recently received miraculous news that Sophie is mostly cancer-free. Our prayers go out to Sophie and her family as she continues to fight this battle.