By: Shelley Nolden
In the spring of 2011, I lost the baby with whom I was twenty weeks pregnant, and then almost died, more than once.
Our sweet, little girl received her angel wings while sucking her thumb (according to my last ultrasound). My devote OBGYN didn’t have experience performing the procedure to remove her from my womb, so she sent me to an abortion clinic, where protesters lining the sidewalk urged me to change my mind.
“My baby’s already dead,” I told one with a sob.
“I am sorry for your loss,” she replied.
Soon, I would lose much more.
“Your platelet count is dangerously low,” the abortion doctor told me. If I started bleeding during the operation, my body wouldn’t be able to form clots to stop the flow. “We need to get you to the hospital so I can have blood transfusions on hand.”
A week and many other symptoms later, a hematologist informed my husband and me that I had an acute form of leukemia. My cancer had killed our sweet little girl before we even had the chance to hear her borning cry. And, it was causing my bone marrow to produce platelets that wouldn’t mature, rendering them ineffective at clotting (the human body’s Band-Aid).
Fortunately, thank God, researchers had found a combination of drugs that make this form of leukemia highly curable, if the patient survives the highly-dangerous initial stage when their body isn’t manufacturing correctly-working platelets.
“If you trip on the way to the bathroom, if you bump the guardrail on your bed, if your toddler knocks into you, you will bleed out internally and die,” said the oncologist at the cancer center where I’d been taken via ambulance.
“Why didn’t I die during the procedure to remove my baby?”
“I don’t know,” he said.
Thank you, God, I whispered.
Around two weeks later, my liver began to form massive clots as my lungs were simultaneously filling with blood. The treatment for each of these problems would worsen the other. I was moved from the leukemia wing to the Intensive Care Unit.
A large team of doctors and nurses huddled just out of my earshot, discussing my case.
Terrified, I laid there, holding my husband’s hand, too scared to find the words for a prayer.
A nurse approached.
“Am I going to die?”
She burst into tears and fled my bedside.
Late into that night, long after my husband had left to put our eighteen-month-old daughter to bed, I laid awake, sobbing.
Against the backdrop of the raspy breathing of a man, at least five decades older than me, in the neighboring bed, I prayed.
And as I prayed, a calmness descended upon me. I knew that if I died that night, I would be with our baby girl in heaven. And my husband would take care of our toddler here on Earth.
I fell asleep mid-prayer.
The following morning, the warmth of sunlight on my face woke me.
That is the closest I have ever felt to God.
Recently, Tom Freiling, the leader of Stop Cancer. Start Praying., sent me an article on supernatural and natural healing.
I know that the targeted chemotherapy I received wiped out the cancer cells, and I also know that God was with me during those darkest moments.
With this second chance at life, I have striven to be the best mother and wife I can be. But I believe I have another purpose: to help others affected by cancer.
Faith + Science + Medicine = Hope.
It’s a beautiful equation that Tom Freiling penned for the header of Stop Cancer. Start Praying.’s Facebook community.
Two years ago, I became involved (as Chairwoman) in a new company called GRYT Health, whose mission is to bridge the divide between the healthcare industry and the humans—mothers, fathers, sons, daughters—that are affected by cancer. In an age of rapid scientific discovery, data mining, and artificial intelligence, the hugely important, unique experience of each person affected by cancer often is neglected. GRYT Health is focused on preserving the humanity in the healthcare system’s approach to treating disease.
Spirituality is a huge part of what makes us human. For so many people, Faith plays a huge role in their cancer journey. And, I believe it can do even more to help end cancer once and for all.
Cancer research has made massive strides in the quest for cures, but science cannot do it alone. They need us to help them. Cancer cannot be cured solely in laboratories. The researchers need us for clinical trials, and they need to hear from us to develop better treatments with less side effects.
The Power of Prayer.
It’s been proven, and it’s incredible.
I believe that God is listening to every one of the million prayers each day from the Stop Cancer. Start Praying. community.
And, I can’t help but wonder if one of the ways He is answering those prayers is through the unity and empowerment of the group itself. More specifically: their ability to take action by helping the researchers.
Through prayer, a million of God’s children have come together. They hold the Faith in Tom’s equation. Amongst them are the people with experiences that Science is currently seeking so that the researchers can create better Medicine.
This community has the power, through God’s will, to meaningfully impact the quest for cures. I believe that by helping bringing together those affected by cancer with the researchers who need their input to develop cures, I can make the most of my second chance at life.
How You Can Help
Currently, GRYT Health has two open, compensated studies (please share with anyone you know who may be eligible and interested):
Bone Health Education Project:
Prostate cancer that has spread to the bone? Lung cancer that has spread to the bone? Living with multiple myeloma? Breast cancer that has spread to the bone? Tell us your experience with bone health during your cancer treatment and help improve bone health education for those living with cancer. Current patients or those 3 years or less into survivorship: answer our online questionnaire and get compensated. http://grythealth.com/beacon-study-main
Seeking Newly Diagnosed Patients:
Our research team is actively looking for newly diagnosed patients to participate in a compensated on-line project. (Eligibility requirements can be found at: https://grythealth.com/newly-diagnosed-study.)