It was March when Shelby Skiles’ 2-year-old daughter Sophie started experiencing a dry cough.
“It just wouldn’t go away,” Skiles tells Babble. “But I wasn’t quick to take her to the doctor for little things so I assumed it was the allergies that she and I both have. We rode it out until it started sounding ‘gross’, and then took her to Urgent care.”
But when all of the tests came back clear — including a chest X-ray in April — and the cough still hadn’t gone away, Sophie was diagnosed with asthma and scheduled for allergy testing.
But unbeknownst to anyone yet, Sophie didn’t have asthma, and on May 18, she stopped breathing. After being rushed to a local hospital and then being transferred to Children’s Hospital in Dallas, doctors discovered a softball sized mass in her chest.
“For the next 12 weeks, we were in and out of the hospital,” Skiles says, as they aggressively attempted to treat the cancer with chemotherapy.
It has now been 146 days since Sophie’s diagnosis, and she, mom Shelby, and dad Jonathan have spent nearly all of them in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility.
Yet they aren’t complaining. In fact, they find comfort in this unconventional journey, by hoping to use Sophie’s story to spread awareness of what pediatric cancer patients and their families go through. And it appears that they are definitely succeeding in their mission.
In a now-viral post made on Sophie The Brave’s Facebook page, Shelby is taking the time to thank the nurses whom care for her daughter, day in and day out.
“I see you,” she writes in her open letter to pediatric nurses everywhere. “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’,” pointing out what so many nurses in their profession know all too well, yet aren’t always sure that others notice.”
What Sophie’s family is going through isn’t easy, especially after getting the devastating news in August that despite the chemotherapy wiping out Sophie’s ability to eat, walk, talk, and use her hands, it hadn’t wiped out the cancer. In fact, the cancer had spread.
Which is why the Skiles’ are especially thankful for everything the nurses do for them.
“You put aside what’s happening in your life for 12 hours straight to care for very sick and sometimes dying children,” Skiles’ post continues. “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…