Shelby Skiles estimates that she’s met between 200 and 250 nurses and nurse technicians in the course of her daughter’s four-month battle with cancer.
Two-year-old Sophie was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma on May 18 after she stopped breathing at home and was rushed to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, where doctors found a softball-sized tumor in her chest. She’s been in and out of the hospital ever since.
During this journey, Skiles has been moved by the hard work and dedication of every nurse she’s met ― from the emergency room nurses to the radiology nurses to the chemotherapy clinic nurses to the whole nursing staff at Children’s.
To show her appreciation for this dedicated group of healthcare workers, the East Texas mom wrote a beautiful Facebook tribute that’s since gone viral.
Skiles’ post took the form of a letter addressed to “peds nurses (and incredible nurse techs!).”
“I sit on this couch all day long and, I see you,” she wrote. “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 bandaids off. You say ‘No owies’ and ‘I’m sorry’ more times in one day than most people say ‘thank you’.”
Skiles detailed some of the big and small things these nurses do every day, as they juggle caring for multiple patients, work quietly through the night and find ways to bring joy and comfort to sick children and so much more.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Skiles praised the way nurses put aside everything happening in their own lives to spend long shifts caring for sick and sometimes even dying children ― always with a comforting smile.
“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,” the mom wrote. “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.”
She continued, “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. 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.”
Ultimately, the mom wrote, no amount of cards or snack baskets could show parents’ appreciation for their children’s nurses. “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.
Skiles signed her letter “A mom that sees all you do and loves you dearly for it.”
The beautiful post has received nearly 50,000 likes and has been shared more than 25,000 times.
“It has just floored me the huge responsibility heaped on these oncology nurses. They all take it with such grace,” she said, adding that she’s gotten to see so many nurses at work since May 18. “It’s just so humbling to watch them be truly servant-hearted.”
One night when she couldn’t sleep, Skiles started listing the things she’s seen nurses do that have touched her heart and decided to write her open Facebook letter. She says she could fill a whole second letter with more examples.
Sophie’s journey has been difficult, and she’s not quite out of the woods yet. After doctors identified the tumor in her chest, which was impeding her airway, she had to go to the ICU immediately and was started on heavy steroids to shrink it. Over the next 12 weeks, she underwent chemotherapy and had to be admitted to the hospital for a long stretch due to fevers.
In August, they learned she wasn’t responding to the chemo and her cancer had spread to her chest wall, lymph nodes and bone marrow.
For now, Sophie is being treated at Children’s in Dallas as they wait for a STEM cell transplant. “I’m pretty much living at the Ronald McDonald House full time, and my husband comes when he can as well as both of our moms and my sister. We have great support!” Skiles said.
They will transfer to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth for the transplant due to insurance reasons. “We have a match through cord blood that someone so graciously donated, so we are forever thankful for that. And we are hopeful that the transplant will kick it forever!” the mom explained. “Transplant will be a long and scary process, but as Sophie’s favorite ‘VeggieTales’ song says, ‘God is Bigger.’”
Skiles said she wrote her viral Facebook post to simply thank the nurses for caring for her daughter and treating her with dignity and respect throughout the process.
She also wanted to raise awareness around childhood cancer and what taking care of a sick kid entails. “It’s not just cute bald heads,” she said.
Now that the post has reached so many people, Skiles hopes it will inspire people to show nurses and other medical personnel how valued and appreciated they are.
“Maybe it’ll inspire someone to go to nursing school, or it could inspire others to just ‘be kind to one another’ like Ellen says. I promised Sophie’s Facebook followers from day one that I would be honest about every aspect of this journey from the amazing to the devastating and this list was part of some raw moments in my heart that I just decided to write down.”
Thank you for that beautiful letter. I have been a nurse for many years and a thank you for noticing and keeping stock of all the work that goes into caring for someone, not for all the skilled work that we do but for the little things that we do. When we get down on the floor to play with the little one’s to laying down next to them, playing games and making them laugh. We take on a roll that is much greater than just the nurse or the caregiver. We do care and we love the whole family. Thank you again for your kind words and I hope and pray that Sophie and her family are doing well.
I really enjoyed your letter. It also put puddles in my eyes. I have been a pediatric nurse for 12 yrs now & know how hard it is for you mom’s to see your child sick. Unfortunately, I was never able to have children. I feel blessed when I get a smile from a child that is sick & scared. It makes me feel like I have a new little friend. Bless you & your family. She’s a beautiful little girl. Thank you for noticing what we do & pointing it out to others. It’s a tough job, but it was my calling. I love being a nurse.
For most nurses, their patients are their passion. From Neo-natal to geriatrics. Most nurses care deeply about the type of patients they help. I have only been a nurse for 10 years, I am a Cardiac nurse that helps post open heart and thoracic pateints. For most of my patients this is a stressful(devastating) time in their life. We take away so much of there freedoms for safety sake, and sometimes we stand as a wall between life and death. Anything we can do to make patient’s room their home, cheer them up, get them to laugh and joke around takes the edge off of a difficult situation. The number of patients we care for sometimes makes it difficult to do all that we want to do. I consider myself as being successful, if I can brighten up a patient’s day, and arm them with the knowledge and tools fight the disease they have and not have to return to the hospital for a long time.
I have been a nurse for many years and you brought me to tears. Thank you for caring enough to say thank you and notice nurses. It’s been a wonderful thing to do but I have gotten as much and maybe more from my patients andthier family than I have given often. Glad you had such support and I wish you and your family especially your daugher well.
Amazing… some people can be so grateful in the most trying of times. Praying your baby gets that miracle. As a nurse, which I consider a privilege and an honor, there are times that kindness, prayer and love is the best thing I can give to my patients and their family. God bless you!
What is a nurse technician?
A nurse tech is an unlicensed invaluable assistant who helps with care. They do not pass med like a nurse does, but they assist with other patient care needs such as toileting, bathing, and taking vital signs. They round on patients and sometimes catch changes in patient’s conditions. They are a vital part of the nursing team.
They may soon forget what you say, but they will never forget what you did.
Nurses are beautiful and handsome people and I love them. I am glad that I am part of that journey of caring for others who are either sick in mind or body.
48 years ago I dreamed of being a nurse who happily went to work each day anxious to care for patients, dressed neatly in white and more than happy with my pay. Today I sometimes dread going to the hospital knowing the problems to be faced, feeling anything but neat in my scrubs, and having to work overtime to fill in the staffing gaps or to increase my paycheck. So why do I stay in Nursing? I stay because my patients need me and I need them.
In the 36 years that I have been a nurse, I have rarely been given a “thank you.” But…. after taking care of a critical stroke patient
for 3 hours, including the administration of tPA and all kinds of meds
in the ER, this patient’s husband told his son to ignore me because
I was ” just a nurse.” By the time I finished responding to that
comment, the husband was on his knees apologizing!!!
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