2014 was starting off very well for the Nye’s. Jacob, their oldest at 13 years old, had finished out a great hockey and baseball season. He managed to escape being paralyzed when he attempted a double front flip on the trampoline, which resulted in a broken neck for the summer. He was getting ready to start his last year of school at Magdalen as an 8th grader. Ali, at 11 years old, had made the Wichita Mustangs Softball team and had quite a season. They played many tournaments and their team was undefeated in league play. Ali was starting middle school and was very excited! Taylor, at 9 was her normal mischevious self, getting ready for another school year filled with all her fun friends. She also played softball and became quite a leader for her team. Courtney, the youngest at 6, was starting her first year of “full day” school as a first grader. Kent was loving his new job at Spirit and was working as much overtime as he could. He was also helping his dad restore their classic 55 Chevy. Shannon started the year with no signs of cancer and living every minute of her life as if it was a second chance from God. She was enjoying being a CPA for Larson & Company. She finished renovating Salon Studios. She coached Taylor’s softball team and was active in the Wichita Youth Hockey Association as the treasurer. Outside looking in, the Nye’s seemed to be having everything going their way.
It is amazing how fast your seemingly normal and happy life can come to a screeching halt and leaving you questioning everything you have worked so hard to achieve.
In 2011, Shannon was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. She had a large 7.5mm tumor in her right breast. After the diagnosis she very quickly entered into a fight for her life. She underwent 5 months of chemotherapy, extensive radiation, a full mastectomy with reconstruction, and even a complete hysterectomy. During these treatments Shannon never skipped a beat. She continued to work, take care of her family, volunteer at school and church, and even managed to coach the girls’ softball teams. Shannon was not about to let stage III breast cancer slow her down and never once was there a doubt in her mind on who would win the fight.
Win is exactly what she did! In fact it has been 3 years since the doctors told her that there was no sign of cancer and she was in remission. So she did what any daughter, wife, mother and friend would do…she kept going on with her life, embracing everyday challenges, watching her children grow older, and spreading as much care and love as she could. She went on thinking as many of us do that the best things in life lay in front of us, and that “happily ever afters” aren’t just things of fairy tales.
This is where things dramatically take a turn for the worse. On July 30, 2014, just 2 weeks before school was to start, Shannon was given the worst news of her life. News that no wife, and no mother, wants to get and certainly no one should have to get twice… the cancer had returned. The diagnosis is metastatic breast cancer, stage IV, in the bone. It started in the center of her pelvic bone, near the sacroiliac and has spread rapidly through the “pelvic wing”, along the top of the Iliac and down where the femur connects to the pelvic area. This explained the pain in her hip and what was making it difficult for her to walk. She realized that her, “happily ever after” was once again going to have to be put on hold because she was back in a fight for her life.
Any cancer survivor will tell you that the stress of having cancer is horrific but it really pales in comparison to the stress of picking a treatment option. Which doctor is going to be best? Which treatment or combination of treatments is going to work best? What advice do I take and who should I believe? Above all, how am I going to pay for all of this? Shannon’s situation was no different. She met with oncologists both in Wichita and at KU med center, orthopedic surgeons, dieticians, alternative medicine doctors and we think she even met with a witch doctor! After many stressful weeks, in typical Shannon fashion, she decided the best plan to save her life was to just do everything. Shannon’s everything, involves 12 weeks of chemotherapy, cyber knife radiation, monthly Zometa treatments which is a bone enhancer, dietary changes, lifetime hormonal shots, and some alternative vitamin therapies all while trying to reduce the amount of stress she has in her daily life so her body can actually heal.
Shannon’s battle has just started and she has a very long road in front of her filled with difficulty and uncertainty. The long term side effects of the radiation are unknown, and it hasn’t been done on such a large tumor in a bone. The amount of radiation needed may cause the pelvic bone to die causing her much pain and leaving her unable to walk. The hormonal shots may not contain the cancer which means she would be back on chemo for the rest of her life. To add even more uncertainty, it is questionable how much she will be able to work during and after these treatments. The side effects of the treatments are very real and painful. Severe fatigue, nausea, headaches, and bone pain are quite common. These side effects and the medicine to help with the side effects make it almost impossible for her to complete her duties as a CPA. Not to mention, there are so many doctor appointments, lab work and tests to be done, research for additional treatments, etc… there are not enough hours in the day. Additionally, if these conventional treatments don’t work she may have to resort to experimental treatments that are not covered by insurance and require traveling.
Right now Shannon is putting on a very strong, brave face, and is determined that she is not leaving her children and that she will beat this again. Behind that face, though, is a wife and mother of 4 fantastic children that is scared to death. Scared of the potential outcome. Scared of not having enough time to watch her children grow up. Scared she will not be able to watch her children get married. Scared that she might not be there for her husband. Scared that she may not be able to live her life and accomplish her dreams. If those fears weren’t bad enough she is also worried how, with reduced hours at work, she is going to be able to pay for all of the additional bills that she knows are coming. She is trying to figure out which treatments can be afforded and which ones are simply too expensive.
Anyone who knows Shannon knows that she is a very strong willed, independent woman who would give the shirt off her back to help out a friend but at the same time would never want to be put in the spot light or considered by anyone of being in need. As her friends though, we know that she needs help, significant help!
Shannon is very lucky because she has a very strong network of family, friends, and loved ones who care very much about her. However, emotional support only goes so far when faced with the reality of not being able to work and having medical bills pile up in excess of any salary you did make. It does not help to pay for life saving treatments that are needed. Nor, does it allow Shannon the ability to do what she should be doing, which is trying to spend as much time as possible with her family, creating memories for her children, while at the same time fighting for her life, without the children knowing the severity.
If you have read this far it is almost a certainty that you personally know Shannon, you know her family, or are friends with someone who knows her. As her friends, and on her behalf, we are asking for your help. Comments of encouragement here would be nice. Prayers would be wonderful. Anything you can afford and find in your heart to donate would be fantastic. Every little bit will help.
We can’t make the cancer go away. We can’t help the doctors. We can’t ease all her fears. What we can do is at least take some of the financial worry away and give her the ability to focus on what is really important. This is why we are attempting to raise $75,000 by October 16th which is her birthday. All donations will go directly to the Nye family to help with medical deductibles, offset salary reductions, medications not covered by insurance, non FDA approved treatments that are not covered by insurance and ongoing expenses for the children.
Thank you for taking time to read this and thank you in advance for your support. Please spread this message to anyone you think might be able to help out this wonderful person.
Thank you and may God Bless you!