Shelby Skiles began writing when she and her 2-year-old daughter were having trouble sleeping during a recent visit to Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Skiles, 28, has spent nearly every night in the hospital since learning that her only child, Sophie, had a severe form of T-cell lymphoma in May. Skiles and her husband Jonathan have most likely met hundreds of nurses during Sophie’s treatment.
The toddler’s cancer was slowed by 15 cycles of chemotherapy. He is now awaiting a stem cell transplant. Sophie was unable to stand on her own, let alone walk, talk, or feed herself due to the severe side effects of her chemotherapy. “It was like 3 a.m. and I was lying on that horrible couch in the hospital room and I couldn’t go to sleep,” Skiles recalled earlier this month. I began keeping track of the nurses’ activities and it just snowballed from there.
There were more than just routine exams on the list. Skiles described how the staff went above and beyond for our family and others, such as the nurse who sat on the floor with me during a panic attack shortly after we learned the diagnosis. Skiles and her family set up a Facebook page for Sophie called “Sophie the Brave,” on which Sophie expressed gratitude to the nurses who cared for her.
“I see you carrying armloads of medicine and supplies into one child’s room while your phone rings in your pocket from another child’s room,” she said. “I see you put on gloves and a mask and try not to be too loud at night. I imagine you patting her tiny bald head and wrapping her in blankets.” At this point, it has been shared by over 25,000 people.
Skiles reasoned that because Sophie’s page has a large number of followers, “I’ll post this and raise awareness of what happens at a children’s hospital and what nurses do,
especially when caring for ill children.” “However, the amount of attention it’s gotten has completely floored me,” she continued. Sophie’s primary care nurses at Children’s Medical Center Dallas also read the note. Susan McCollom, clinical manager of the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, oversaw Sophie’s care and expressed her gratitude to her, saying, “I really am so grateful that she did it.”
“Our work is extremely challenging on an emotional, physical, and cerebral level, and it kind of nailed why we do it and that what we do is more than just a job,” one employee explained. I’m very proud of my team, but I’m not surprised, she continued, because I know what they do every day. Sophie, according to Skiles, will remain in the Dallas medical facility until the end of the month before moving to a nearby home.
Sophie will need to stay close to the hospital for follow-up appointments and therapy after the stem cell transplant is completed. “It’s amazing to watch people put their lives on hold and absolutely care for kids who truly, truly need it,” Skiles says. They also look after the parents.