A heartbroken mom was stunned by how her daughter was treated as the toddler fought for her life. The nurse tried to go unnoticed, but the mother snapped a photo when she wasn’t looking. Unable to stay silent, she shared the image and a message to the staff, letting everyone know what she saw.
Shelby and Jonathan Skiles thought their two-year-old daughter Sophia was just suffering from allergies when the little girl began not feeling well. Their world was flipped upside down, however, when Sophie stopped breathing one night. Shelby and Jonathan followed the ambulance transporting their daughter to the hospital, where they received the news no parent wants to hear.
Doctors discovered a softball-sized mass in little Sophie’s chest. Diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma, the young girl was suddenly in the fight of her life. Sadly, aggressive chemotherapy failed to stop her cancer from spreading. Instead, the treatments impacted Sophie’s ability to walk, talk, use her hands and eat. Her weakened body needed a stem cell transplant.
As Sophie fought for her life, Shelby spent countless hours by her daughter’s side in the hospital, where her only concern was Sophie and how she was being treated. Sitting on the couch in Sophie’s room, Shelby noticed a nurse try so hard to go unnoticed, but Shelby was watching. After snapping a photo while the nurse’s back was turned, Shelby posted the image on social media. “I see you,” Shelby wrote as she revealed everything she witnessed during her daughter’s care.
“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 wrote. But, that’s not all Shelby saw.
Shelby observed nurses carrying armloads of medicines and supplies into one child’s room while their phones rang from another down the hall. She saw them trying so hard not to make too much noise at night and stroking little bald heads as they tucked covers around ill children, hoping to bring them some warmth and comfort. Shelby saw them hold crying moms and babies who were all alone.
The nurses put aside their own life for 12 hours straight to care for very sick and sometimes dying children, going into each room with a smile no matter what was happening in there, and Shelby wanted them to know, “I see you.” She saw them as they came to check on Sophie even when she wasn’t their patient. And, she saw them make as many calls as necessary to get Sophie whatever she needed.
“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,” Shelby wrote, recognizing what the staff did for her. Shelby saw how they tried to make each stay better for everyone. From painting the perfect cartoon character on the new kid’s window to cheering enthusiastically for the child taking laps around the nurse’s station and even playing Nerf guns, Shelby saw it all.
“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,” Shelby continued, expressing her gratitude. “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,” she concluded, signing the post, “A mom that sees all you do and loves you dearly for it.”
Shelby’s heartfelt sentiments touched not only the nurses she wrote the post for, but also other parents who had similar experiences and also saw that the nurses are the backbone of the pediatric unit. Their jobs are unimaginably difficult as they live through the worst times of any parent’s life, over and over again, every day.
As healers, helpers, playmates, storytellers, counselors, and comforters, they touch countless lives, caring not only for their pint-sized patients but looking out for their entire family as well. Willingly, they go into a battle most of us pray to avoid. And, they do it day after day for one family after another.
When people think of children, we picture them running, playing, jumping, and giggling. We think of them smiling and healthy. Is there a worse thought than a dying child or one suffering from cancer? Pediatric nurses step into that nightmare, hoping to guide little ones and their families through it. They deserve to be seen for the courageous warriors they are. So, in tribute to nurses everywhere, please know — we see you too.