We were on vacation at Sea World in Ohio when Shane complained of a stiff neck, and one of his eyes wouldn't stay open all of the way. On the way to an amusement park the next day, we stopped at a hospital emergency room hoping just to get a quick fix to help us until we went home the next day.
An x-ray was taken just in case, and that's when we found out that he had a tumor in his shoulder/spine area.
Ann Arbor truly became our second home. It is 110 miles, one way, from where we live. We would get on the freeway and drive there 5 days a week at times.
A couple of times we did it twice in one day (I wanted to make sure Shane could go to his Halloween party at school one year, so we were in Ann Arbor at 6 a.m. for an MRI, drove home, he went to his party, then we drove back to Ann Arbor for more tests).
Shane never complained about the drive, or ever having to go there. He felt safe there and formed some very strong and lasting friendships.
Music was Shane's life (and U of M football).
He was in his high school band for four years. The last two he was their drum major, sometimes leading them out onto the football field on crutches because of the pain in his hip/legs.
The cancer by that time was making his hips look more like a sponge than solid bone. Going to school was the one thing that kept him going. All he ever wanted to do was to learn (and be the first to raise his hand with the correct answer).
He graduated in June 2004, and talked me into letting him go away to college that August. He wanted to be a teacher. What used to be a 110 mile trip one way, now became a 210 trip one way, but how could I say 'no'?
Between chemo and blood transfusions (3x's a week), we were on the road a lot. After 1 month of college, a virus put him in the hospital. The virus left him drained to the point that it wasn't safe for him to be away any longer. His making the decision to quit college was probably the hardest thing he ever had to do.
After 10 1/2 years his cancer quickly and pretty quietly took his life.
So many of the children that we came to know over the years suffered so much at the end of their fight. Shane's was just his body slowing down more and more over the days until we knew that there would be no more second chances.
He died on November 30th, 2004.
“As a parent of a child with cancer, I can’t find the words to help you to understand really what my life has been like these last 11 years. The feelings of guilt and helplessness were so consuming at times. Christmas time became such a sad time of year because you always wondered if it would be your last one together. It is so hard to feel like you have to take a lifetime of memories, and consolidate them into a couple of years.. months… days… or even hours. I have lost count of all of the special children that Shane and I got to know and care for over the years, only to have to say a sad good-bye to them because they had lost their battle. I feel that I have cried enough tears that would fill an ocean, and I can’t begin to tell you the number of bargains with God that I made....... My wishes and prayers changed over time from, “Please don’t let my child have cancer..... to please let his cancer go away..... to please let there not be a lot of progression..... to please let there not be a lot of pain..... to please let his pain be manageable..... then finally..... to please let him die in peace.”..... Sometimes this all just seems like a dream, that Shane ever had cancer at all. And then I look around and see the way my life is now, and it almost seems like a dream that Shane was ever here with us..... It is said that “When you lose your parents you are an orphan. When you lose your spouse, you are a widow, or widower. There is no name for a parent who loses their child, because it is just too unspeakable.”..... Some of the kids with the same cancer as Shane suffer so much at the end of their life. We were so very lucky that the end for Shane came quickly. Shane took his last breath at 4:26 p.m. on November 30th, 2004. I know the time, because one of his nurses that had been with us since he walked through the hospital doors for the first time 10 years ago, was calling to see how he was doing. That call came at the moment that Shane's last breath was taken. It was a moment that I will remember forever.”
- Written by Shane’s mother, Cathy