When Shawn was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 16 months old, his mother Sue experienced a sense of dread each time an IV was inserted into his tiny arm. Little did she know that this would be the least invasive procedure Shawn would undergo in his short three years of life.
Shawn’s journey with cancer included three major brain surgeries, the insertion of a feeding tube from his nose to his stomach for nutritional supplementation, monthly MRIs, numerous clinic visits, extensive hours in therapy sessions, and months confined to a hospital bed.
For Shawn's parents, the journey with cancer meant sacrificing sleep, often dozing wherever and whenever they could. They had to make difficult choices such as leaving work or working more, missing important milestones in their other child's life, facing financial strain, borrowing money, and carrying the constant weight of worry on their shoulders.
There were moments when Shawn smiled and the family was all happy. Those moments are the ones they treasure the most. “But the reality of a cancer diagnosis for a child brings with it an array of what seem like torturous treatments, which unfortunately is the lesser of two evils when it comes to the alternative,” Sue explains. “That alternative for us is the reality of childhood cancer. After there was nothing more that could be done, we watched helplessly as Shawn lost each one of his abilities in the last few months of his life. Gone was the ability to walk and then the ability to use his arms. Slowly he lost his ability to talk, to move, and even eventually to blink and swallow. Then, of course, his ability to breathe which took his life as we held him in our arms.”