Shelby Skiles was unable to sleep one recent night while staying with her 2-year-old daughter at Children’s Medical Center Dallas when she just began to write.
Skiles, 28, has spent nearly every night since May at the hospital after her only child, Sophie, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of T-cell lymphoma.
Skiles estimates she and her husband, Jonathan, have met hundreds of nurses throughout the course of Sophie’s treatment. The toddler is awaiting a stem cell transplant, after undergoing 15 rounds of chemotherapy that helped stop the progression of the cancer.
But, the intense chemotherapy left Sophie unable to walk, talk and eat on her own.
"It was like 3 a.m. and I was sitting on that uncomfortable couch in the hospital room and I couldn’t go to sleep," Skiles said about the night this month she began to write. "I just started writing down what the nurses do and it just kept going."
The list included more than just routine checkups.
"All the things I see them do for us and for other people," Skiles wrote, "like the nurse who sat on the floor with me when I had a panic attack when we got the diagnosis."
Skiles posted her letter of gratitude to nurses on a Facebook page she and her family created for Sophie called "Sophie the Brave."
"I see you carrying arm loads of medicine and supplies into one child's room all while your phone is ringing in your pocket from the room of another," she wrote. "I see you put on gloves and a mask and try not to make too much noise at night ... I see you stroke her little bald head and tuck her covers around her tightly."
The post has now been shared more than 25,000 times.
“I thought, ‘Sophie’s page has a lot of followers so I’ll post this and bring awareness to what goes on in a children’s hospital and what nurses do especially when caring for sick kids,” Skiles said. “But I’ve been 150 percent shocked by how much attention it’s gotten.”
The post also caught the eye of the nurses caring for Sophie at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
“I just am so grateful that she did that,” said Susan McCollom, clinical manager of the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, who has helped treat Sophie. “Our job is very difficult, emotionally, physically and mentally and it kind of captured why we do our job and that what we do is not just a job.”
She added, “I’m very proud of my team, but not surprised because I know that’s what they do every day.”
Skiles said she expects Sophie to remain at the Dallas hospital until at least the end of January and then transfer to nearby housing. Once the stem cell transplant is complete, Sophie will need to continue undergoing therapy and live close to the hospital for checkups.
“It’s incredible to watch people put their lives on hold and completely care for kids that really, really need it,” Skiles said of the nurses she’s encountered so far. “And they care for the parents too.”