Nolan Scully (or Sargent Rollin' Nolan Scully, as his mom called him) passed away in February from Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer. He was just four-years-old.
First diagnosed in 2015, Nolan relied on his mom to feel safe, and didn't like to be out of her sight or reach - understandably so, considering he survived radiation, open chest and brain surgery and endless amounts of pain during his two-year fight. Through it all, though, Nolan was a ray of light right up to the very end.
In a devastating Facebook post, Ruth Scully, two months after Nolan's passing, gave the world a glimpse into the boy's last days. Equally heart-wrenching and miraculous, Nolan's passing "shined with how amazing [he] is," Scully wrote. Just a brief scroll through Nolan's story proves the boy lived with compassion, hope and the deepest kind of love for his mama.
After not eating or drinking for days and continuously vomiting, Scully brought her son back to the hospital, just four weeks after chest surgery. "I knew there was something else wrong," she wrote. "I think he did too."
After Nolan's scans came back, when Scully sat down with his entire team of doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, she saw the pain in Nolan's oncologists eyes. There was no longer anything they could do for her son. The plan, going forward, would be to keep him comfortable enough to let go.
If it was impossible to hear, we can only imagine how telling Nolan (a warrior and aspiring policeman) must have felt. But when Nolan heard that he didn't have to fight anymore, he joyfully said, "I DON'T?! But I will for you Mommy!"
When Scully asked him if he'd been holding on for her, his response proved he was way beyond his years: "Well, DUH! I'll just go to Heaven and play until you get there!" he said. "You'll come right?"
In the days that followed, Nolan watched YouTube, shot Nerf Guns and filled out a "will." He planned his own funeral - he chose his pall bearers, wrote down what he wanted people to wear and what he was leaving each member of his family. He said he wanted to be remembered as a policeman. Sounds like he was as brave as the best of them.
On February 4, around 9:00 pm, Scully went to take a shower in Nolan's hospital room (instead of going home, Nolan wanted to stay at the hospital, to make it easier for his mom). Nolan couldn't follow his mom into the bathroom this time, but promised to keep his eyes right on the door. "They said the moment the bathroom door clicked he shut his eyes and went into a deep sleep, beginning the end of life passing," Scully wrote.
His right lung had collapsed and a coma set in. When Scully got out of the shower and doctors told her what happened, she leaped onto his bed. "Then a miracle that I will never forget happened," she wrote. "My angel took a breath, opened his eyes, smiled at me and said, 'I Love You, Mommy."
Nolan went at 11:54 p.m while his mom sang "You Are My Sunshine" into his ear. For a story this incredible (and a boy that supersedes it, tenfold), we can understand why she waited to share it. At the end of the post, she included a collaged photo, a heartbreaking before and after. The image on the left shows Nolan curled up, waiting for his mom to finish showering. The right photo shows life without the boy - an empty bathmat and an incredible void.
"Now I'm the one terrified to shower," she concluded. "With nothing but an empty shower rug now where once a beautiful little boy laid waiting for his Mommy."
When Nolan passed, his family requested donations be sent to Hope for Henry, an organization that reinvents how hospitals care for ill children and their families. The organization is hosting a Mother's Day race in Bethesda, Maryland to raise funds and awareness for Rhabdomyosarcoma. If you would like to make a donation in Nolan's honor, you can do so through the NolanStrong team. If you're local, you can register to run for Nolan Scully, the little boy who never gave up.
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