Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Shaske family shares touching story at Relay for Life

“Anyone affected by cancer has suffered a loss. But they have also gained something, as well.”

These words were spoken to a crowd assembled under the pavilion at Gotte Park Friday night by someone whose very existence has been shaped by the often-deadly disease, Ms. Jodie Shaske.

With cancer survivors and caretakers filling the tables around her, she told her own tale, a portion of which is included below.

“I want to visit with you as a friend and as a sister in this life we all share with cancer.

My name is Jodie Shaske. I am 37 years old, the mother of three children, with a husband at home in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and I am a cancer survivor.

Believe it or not, it has been two years this September since the brain cancer diagnosis came to our family.

I remember the night just like it was yesterday. It was a Thursday night, September 21, 2011. I remember the seizure that took place on our bathroom floor. I remember life barely hanging on. I remember the trip to the emergency room, and drilling the holes through the skull to relieve the pressure on the brain. I remember when the doctor finally came in and told us it was brain tumors.

How afraid we all were.

I remember the trip to Denver that night. I drive to Denver a lot for my job, but that was the longest trip we had ever made to Denver. I remember. How we made it, I’ll never know.

When we got to Denver, it was all a blur. The day turned to night, the night turned to day and back to night again. Somewhere in all of that grey, I remember another doctor coming in and telling us that those tumors were brain cancer.

I remember how afraid we were. I remember surviving the next eight days in intensive care, not really waking up for three days, not being able to speak, knowing that we were surrounded by loved ones, we pulled through. We survived.

I remember surviving through the brain biopsy they had to do eight days later, not knowing if this was the type of brain cancer that you lived from or died from. They told us it was a fifty-fifty chance. One responded well to treatment and the other just didn’t.

I remember going through constant radiation for 21 days straight, where they bolted your head down to the table and screwed it in and even if you had an itch, they had to start over again. I remember how painful it was to endure the radiation everyday to the brain and the spine.

I remember the chemotherapy running through the IV, for three months straight, fighting. I survived that. I also survived that night, being ripped away from my newborn, four-month old daughter, my four-year old son, not knowing when we would see them again when we left them with a babysitter before driving to Denver, not knowing what would happen.

But I will tell you, my fifteen-year-old son Joey was with me this entire time. You see, Joey was the one with the brain cancer.

We are all survivors here. We survived. We survived together. I want to share with you tonight that everybody who fights this fight loses something. We are all in this together, whether you have lost someone to this terrible disease or whether you have fought next to someone. It doesn’t matter. We have all lost something. Let’s remember though tonight, that we have all gained something.”

Her son Joey went on to make a full recovery, and as his mother told his story Friday night, his eyes glistened with tears. When she finished, he went to his mother, and they held each other in a long, warm embrace. The scars of their battle, although unseen to the naked eye, are still present, still hurting and still offering a constant reminder of their struggles as a family.

For more information on Relay for Life, contact Fran Wallin or visit the American Cancer Society website at http://www.cancer.org.

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