Mom Writes Emotional Tribute to the Nurses Caring for Her Little Girl With Cancer

nurse and little girl with cancer
Sophie the Brave/Facebook

When your child is seriously ill, you spend all of your time focused on every aspect of his or her care. From treatment options to the placement of each bandage, a parent worries about every detail, big and small. But so do the nurses who care for our kids. Shelby Skiles's 2-year-old is battling cancer. Her open letter to the pediatric nurses who help treat her daughter is a beautiful tribute to the hardworking men and women who treat our children like their very own.

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For the longest time, Skiles thought her daughter was only suffering from a cough. "It just wouldn't go away," the mom told 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."

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sophie the brave
Sophie the Brave/Facebook

Tests came back normal. Even a chest X-ray came back all clear. The toddler was diagnosed with asthma and scheduled for allergy testing. But one night, two months after the cough began, she stopped breathing. 

Her family rushed the little girl to the emergency room. She was quickly transferred to Children's Hospital in Dallas. It was there doctors discovered a mass in her chest the size of a softball. Sophie didn't have asthma. She had cancer. Skiles says they spent the next 12 weeks in the hospital, fighting the tumor with chemotherapy.

She recently wrote a beautifully honest open letter on the Facebook page Sophie the Brave, where she keeps family and supporters updated on her daughter's condition. With over 48,000 reactions and over 25,000 shares, her words are resonating with parents and nurses everywhere.

little girl fighting cancer
Sophie the Brave/Facebook

"Dear Peds Nurses (and incredible nurse techs!)," she writes, "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.'"

All nurses have a difficult job. Not only are the shifts long and physically demanding, but nurses have to have a ton of medical knowledge and skill that their brains can access at a moment's notice -- because sometimes a second is the difference between life and death. Pediatric nurses have the added challenge of working with sick kids, kids who are in a hospital bed when they should be running and playing. Their nurses help heal them, but also work so hard to give them as "normal" a childhood experience as possible. Skiles lets them know that these efforts don't go unnoticed. 

"I see you using your phone as a template to paint the perfect cartoon character on the new kid's window. I see you cheering so enthusiastically for the kid taking laps around the nurses station," she writes. "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 an IV bag of poison chemo for my kid."

Although Sophie and her family did everything they could to fight her cancer, in August they learned her cancer had spread. By this point the chemotherapy had impacted her ability to talk, walk, eat, and even use her hands. This is why her mom was all the more thankful for the pediatric nurses who help to care for her. And not just Sophie, but for the rest of the family too.

toddler fighting cancer and her mom
Sophie the Brave/Facebook

"You put aside what's happening in your life for 12 hours straight to care for very sick and sometimes dying children," she writes. "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."

Earlier this month, Sophie and her family received the fantastic news that she is mostly cancer-free. The little girl is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant, which will hopefully wipe out the rest of her cancer forever. Even though this nightmare may soon be behind them, the family will always be grateful for the nurses who treated their daughter with such love and care while she was in the hospital. All the fruit baskets in the world can't thank them enough.

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"I see you. We all see you," Skiles writes. "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." 

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