Coughing teen asks Dad to take her to hospital – within hours, he is left broken

This moved me to tears.

A cough. We’ve all had one. Usually, we take something over-the-counter and get better in a few days. If a cough doesn’t get any better, we head to the doctor. That’s what 16-year-old Shayla Mitchell did when she couldn’t shake a cough that’d plagued her for months.

She thought she had sinusitis, but when her cough persisted, she asked her dad to take her to the doctor. Once there, the doctor gave them unexpected and frightening news.

She and her father, Tom, were shocked to hear she had a large, cancerous tumor which caused her lungs to collapse. The collapsed lungs caused a cough. For the next five months, Shayla battled advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In a show of support, Tom bought matching bracelets for them to wear while she warred for her life. He promised her he’d wear the jewelry every day until Shayla beat cancer. That day never came.

When doctors told Tom there was nothing more they could do; he braced himself to tell her the news.

Tom shared his internal struggle on Facebook:

“How in the world was I supposed to have this conversation with my darling daughter? How in the world was I going to be brave enough to tell my daughter she was going to die? I once heard a quote that sort of sums things up for me. ‘Can a man still be brave if he is afraid? … That is the only time he CAN be brave.’ I knew I had to be brave for HER! I did, of course, have that conversation with her, and as unbelievable as this may sound it turned out to be the most amazing, beautiful, magical, wonderful conversation I’ve ever had in my entire life, and one that I hope you NEVER EVER have to have…” he wrote.

After he broke the news to his sweet girl, she whispered, “Am I still brave Dad?”

At that moment he realized she hadn’t battled for her life for her own sake, but his. Within days, Shayla died. Though Tom was devastated, he knew Shayla fought long and hard, and indeed was brave until the end.

We pray for Tom and all of Shayla’s loved ones as they transition into life without her and we trust God’s grace to get them through this season.

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