During the winter months, it’s a common occurrence for people to fall ill. Often, individuals tend to delay seeking medical attention, especially when their only symptom is a persistent cough.
We’ve all experienced this situation before—falling sick, taking time to rest, and gradually recovering.
However, if your symptoms persist and you feel unwell for an extended period, it’s advisable to at least contact a healthcare helpline for advice. While it’s true that our bodies are generally capable of fighting off colds and flu without medical intervention, there are instances where a persistent cough may indicate a more serious underlying condition than a simple viral infection.
Shayla Mitchell, a 16-year-old, didn’t feel quite right and had been plagued by an unrelenting cough. Initially, she suspected it might be sinusitis. Eventually, her condition worsened to the point where she approached her father, Tom, and asked him to take her to see a doctor.
Her father readily agreed, and the following day, after school, he picked Shayla up and drove her to the hospital. They even made plans to grab a meal together afterward.
Shayla underwent an examination, during which the doctor temporarily left the room. When he returned, he delivered news that would forever alter her life.
Shayla had an enormous cancerous tumor that occupied nearly two-thirds of her breasts. It had even caused one of her lungs to collapse, explaining her prolonged illness and incessant coughing. Despite the devastating revelation, Shayla and her father decided to proceed with their dinner plans, albeit in the hospital rather than a restaurant. Little did they know that the next 450 meals they would share would be in the pediatric oncology unit at Fairfax Hospital.
Shayla had advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the prognosis was grim.
To demonstrate unwavering support for his daughter, Tom embarked on a symbolic gesture. He purchased matching bracelets for both of them, pledging to wear his every day until Shayla conquered cancer.
Over the next few years, Tom spent countless nights by his daughter’s side as they battled the dreadful disease together.
Shayla endured numerous tests, blood transfusions, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and even experienced cardiac arrest. Yet, she never ceased to fight. For Tom, witnessing his daughter’s struggle was agonizing. He held her hair as she vomited, shared tears, laughter, and bravery with her.
Eventually, the day arrived when doctors acknowledged their inability to do more for Shayla. Her body was unresponsive to treatment, and a bone marrow transplant had failed.
On the Love What Matters Facebook page, Tom shared his thoughts:
“How was I supposed to have this conversation with my beloved daughter? How could I summon the courage to tell her that she was going to die? I once heard a quote that captures my sentiments: ‘Can a man still be brave if he is afraid? … That is the only time he CAN be brave.’
“I knew I had to be brave for HER! And so, I had that conversation with her. Astonishingly, it turned out to be the most amazing, beautiful, magical, and profound conversation I’ve ever had in my entire life—a conversation that I hope you NEVER EVER have to experience…”
When Tom finished speaking, his daughter whispered back, “Am I still brave, Dad?”
In that moment, Tom looked into his little girl’s eyes and saw the immense pain she was enduring. She had fought tirelessly for so long, not just for herself, but for him.
A few days later, Shayla passed away. Tom was devastated, but he held one certainty close to his heart: Shayla had fought with unwavering determination until the end, fulfilling her promise and remaining brave throughout.