“Mommy I love you.” Those were the last words of 4-year-old, Nolan Scully. As his battle with cancer came to a heartbreaking end, Nolan openly talked about his impending death with incredible faith, telling his mom he would just wait for her in Heaven.
At only 3 years old, Nolan was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer. To keep track of his battle against the disease, his family started a page on Facebook, NolanStrong. In no time, little Nolan’s amazing spirit stole the hearts of his local community and hundreds of thousands of strangers across the world.
“Every battle he’s had, he just bounced back, unbelievably. You knocked him down, he just came back and ran.” Mark Bell, a family friend and Chief of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department, said.
Nolan’s dad, Jonathan who was the Chief of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department decided to step down once his son was given his cancer diagnosis. Like his dad, Nolan wanted to serve his people. He wanted to become a police officer.
While in the hospital, the city’s Police Commissioner fulfilled Nolan’s dreams by swearing him in as an honorary police officer, his name now became ‘Sgt. Rollin’ Nolan.’ Many local fire departments did the same.
Everyone was rooting for Nolan. Doctors worked relentlessly to restore his health, but Nolan’s little body couldn’t fight much longer.
“We were sat down with his entire team. When his Oncologist spoke, I saw the pure pain in her eyes. She had always been honest with us and fought along side of us the whole time. But his updated CT scan showed large tumors that grew compressing his bronchial tubes and heart within four weeks of his open chest surgery. The Mestatic Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma was spreading like wild fire. She explained at this time she didn’t feel his Cancer was treatable as it had become resistant to all treatment options we had tried and the plan would be to keep him comfortable as he was deteriorating rapidly.” Nolan’s mom recalled.
Nolan’s family had been dreading this type of news from the beginning. A heartbroken Ruth gathered the courage to go tell her little boy the news. But his reaction showed the immense faith this sweet angel had. Nolan had absolutely no fear of death, he even told his mom he would wait in Heaven for her!
Ruth shared how their conversation went. “I sat down with him and put my head up against his and had the following conversation:
Me: Poot, it hurts to breathe doesn’t it?
Nolan: Weeeelll…. yeah.
Me: You’re in a lot of pain aren’t you baby?
Nolan: (looking down) Yeah.
Me: Poot, this Cancer stuff sucks. You don’t have to fight anymore.
Nolan: (Pure Happiness) I DONT??!! But I will for you Mommy!!
Me: No Poot!! Is that what you have been doing?? Fighting for Mommy??
Nolan: Well DUH!!
Me: Nolan Ray, what is Mommy’s job?
Nolan: To keep me SAFE! (With a big grin)
Me: Honey … I can’t do that anymore here. The only way I can keep you safe is in Heaven. (My heart shattering)
Nolan: Sooooo I’ll just go to Heaven and play until you get there! You’ll come right?
Me: Absolutely!! You can’t get rid of Mommy that easy!!
Nolan: Thank you Mommy!!! I’ll go play with Hunter and Brylee and Henry!!”
Nolan and his family spent the next few days enjoying the little time they had left. “We laid in bed together and he sketched out how he wanted his funeral, picked his pall bearers, what he wanted people to wear, wrote down what he was leaving each of us, and even wrote down what he wanted to be remembered as… which of course was a Policeman.”
Little Nolan loved having his mom next to him and just being close by. On what would turn out to be his last day, Ruth asked Nolan’s permission to grab a quick shower. The moment the bathroom door closed, Nolan shut his eyes and went into a deep sleep, beginning the end of life passing.
When Ruth stepped out of the shower, Nolan’s entire medical team was surrounding him with tears in their eyes.
Little Nolan had slipped into a coma. His lung had collapsed and his oxygen levels dropped. “I ran and jumped into bed with him and put my hand on the right side of his face. Then a miracle that I will never forget happened…My angel took a breath, opened his eyes, smiled at me and said ‘I Love You Mommy’, turned his head towards me and at 11:54 pm Sgt. Rollin Nolan Scully passed away as I was singing ‘You are My Sunshine’ in his ear.” Ruth recalled the heart-shattering, yet miraculous final moments with her little boy.
Ruth shared a side by side photo of the bathroom floor and recalled how her baby boy used to lay on the bathmat outside the shower waiting for her to come out. The heartbroken mom wrote, “Now I’m the one terrified to shower. With nothing but an empty shower rug now where once a beautiful perfect little boy laid waiting for his Mommy.”
The whole town came together to give Nolan the best possible send off. Thousands of people showed up to offer condolences. Songs that Nolan picked out himself played ,like “This Little Light Of Mine.”
Following Nolan’s wishes, most of the attendees wore red, his favorite color, or a NolanStrong T-shirt.
“He wanted everyone to smile and be happy. So even in the end, he was not thinking of himself.” Diana Rogers, Nolan’s grandmother said.
Firefighters and police officers took turns watching over Nolan’s casket at the service, a privilege reserved for officers who passed away in the line of duty.
“He made unbelievers believe. He brought the community together in such positive way,” his grandmother told the crowd.
God truly had a special purpose for Nolan, it is evident with the many many lives he was able to touch at such a tender age. We pray God comforts his grieving family.