2017 Honored Angel: Shyanne
There may be no better symbol of why the 2017 Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic is so critically important than the story of Shyanne and her loving family of California.
A beautiful, innocent, loving, happy and faithful little girl, Shyanne was diagnosed with PPB on July 29, 2015, when she was only 3 years, 8 months old. Her mother, Jennifer, recounts the story.
“I took her to the E.R. at Children’s Hospital because she felt tired and seemed to have trouble breathing. Driving to the hospital, I looked in my rear view mirror at my beautiful little girl. She had on her new pink princess dress that I just bought her. I don’t know why, but the thought went through my head that my life was about to change forever.”
The next day doctors found a honeydew-sized tumor in Shyanne’s chest. Subsequent scans showed that the disease had spread to her spine, leg, hips, arm and brain. Shyanne underwent a 7-hour surgery followed by 23 days of full brain and spine radiation. She was transported daily in an ambulance to Morse Cancer Center. She developed terrible mucositis (sores in her mouth and digestive tract) and second-degree burns on her spine from the radiation.
In December, she had follow-up scans. They could not find the cancer anywhere. She was in remission and everyone was thrilled.
“On St. Patrick’s Day, I was tucking Shyanne into her bed,” said Jennifer. “I heard a loud scream come from the bedroom. I found her vomiting and unable to speak. I picked her up and her whole left side went limp. My baby had had a stroke.”
Scans showed Shyanne had relapsed. She went back into surgery to have the brain tumor removed followed by more chemo treatments. In August 2016, scans that showed that Shyanne had relapsed with cancer in her brain and throughout her spine.
“The doctors told me that they could not cure her, only prolong her life,” said Jennifer. “I made a decision to stop treatment. My daughter had already endured so much. I didn’t want to be selfish and put her through any more. I wanted her final days to be comfortable and happy. The doctors told me we had weeks to months left. I placed her in her car seat and cried all the way home.”
Following the devastating news, the family took their Make a Wish trip, but Shyanne was in so much pain.
“My husband and I felt so helpless, broken and defeated,” said Jennifer. “Eighteen days after our trip to Florida, Shyanne passed away. She had a very long seizure at home. After it was over I picked her up and rocked her in my arms. I told her she was safe and that no one could hurt her anymore. She nestled up in my chest, listening to my heartbeat and fell asleep. Cancer had finally lost its hold on my precious child.”
Shyanne was a beautiful little girl who, in spite of a terrible diagnosis and difficult treatments, was so full of life.
“She loved everything pink. She loved flowers and stuffed animals, especially her little rainbow bear she named Banana Peel. She was very artistic and loved to paint. She also loved Play Doh, the Minions, and her iPad. Her favorite cartoons were Peppa Pig, Curious George, and Peg+Cat on PBS. She loved to eat strawberries and whipped cream. She loved having her bible stories read to her at night by her big brother Christopher. She loved listening to her Children’s Bible songs in the car. She loved to brush her my hair and snuggle up with her. She loved her little dog Prissy.”
A beautiful, innocent, loving, happy and faithful little girl. Shyanne was strong, feisty and wise beyond her years. She lived in the moment. She loved soft blankets, especially her soft pink one. She also loved going on walks in her stroller and spotting all the butterflies and bunnies in the neighborhood.
“She loved Jesus, and we often talked about how wonderful eternity will be,” said Jennifer. “She would ask, “Mama are there roses in heaven?” I look forward to the day that my little girl and I can be together again. My husband and I miss our princess very much. Little brother, Noah, and big brother, Christopher, do also.”
Shyanne’s story is proof that no amount of love, faith and care alone can guard against PPB. More research is needed.
As we gather this weekend as participants, spectators, guests, sponsors, organizers and medical professionals to continue to push PPB research effort forward, we honor Shyanne’s memory by strengthening our fight for those who will be affected by PPB in the future.