This is the second selfless act that I want to tell you about. It is the story of Shannon taking part in her cousins wedding in South Carolina in September of 2009.
When Shannon was diagnosed and began her treatments she was determined to be in her cousins bridal party. I actually had conversations with Shannon and it went something like this: "Shannon- don't you think this is just too much? The wedding is going to take place during your stomach shots of IL2." Shannon would just say, "Mom I will be okay." She would say, "Somehow I am going to do this." I really felt she was grasping for something that she was not going to be able to physically do. I had already seen two months of what the IL2 did to her.
Shannon could not administer the four stomach shots of IL2 herself. Ben, Shannon's husband, had to give her the shots. It was hard on him I know but just like everything else, Ben was a tower of strength and calm for Shannon. During these treatments Shannon had all kinds of medications she had to take all night long. She would run fevers, would retain fluids, she would get the rigors, where her body shook uncontrollably. She turned bright red for days with a rash all over her face and upper body. She also would get a hard knot in her stomach that hurt and stayed hard for a very long time. She was nauseous and would vomit and have diarrhea. She would cry during the night and not be able to sleep. During these four days she could not really eat anything. So she felt sick and weak. It was a hard treatment but we had such hope in its outcome.
Shannon had worked it out with her clinical trial nurse that she would start her IL2 shots the month of the wedding on Monday, ending it on Thursday. She and Ben drove to South Carolina on Wednesday with the intention to get her down there relaxed in her hotel and so she could help her cousin with preparations.
After arriving in South Carolina she helped Lauren, her cousin, with many different things in preparation. I arrived on Friday around 2 and met her along with the bridal party at a manicure place. I took one look at Shannon and was shocked at how bad she looked. It turned my stomach. I said to her, "Shannon, are you okay?" This time Shannon actually took me aside and told me how very sick she had been. How she had been up the entire night and was the sickest she had been so far. I wanted to just take her in my arms and hold her and protect her from this vicious cancer and the treatments. But instead, we went into the salon.
That night we had the rehearsal dinner and she still prevailed and acted strong. She was so sick though. The following day she woke up and went back to work getting things ready for the wedding.
Everything turned out lovely and the wedding was so wonderful. But my little girl was so very sick through the whole thing.
Shannon's drive home also was difficult because she had not brought a pillow and had to have a seat belt cut across her stomach where she had four fresh, hurtful, hard knots. She wept going home.
Later, when my son was looking at the wedding pictures he asked me, "Mom, why does everyone look good in these pictures but Shannon?" I then told him the story. Many people might not have had a clue throughout all of this, but she was a very sick girl during this time.
I wanted to tell this because this was just another example of how Shannon was determined to not allow this cancer to keep her down. She wanted to be a part of this special time with her cousin. She managed it. I was very proud of her. I hope you all are too!