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Teen starts coughing and asks her dad to take her to the hospital—within a few hours the real issue becomes clear


Winter is a time when many people catch colds or flu. Often, we try to shake it off with some rest, hoping to feel better soon. But sometimes, a persistent cough might be a sign of something more serious. This was the case for 16-year-old Shayla Mitchell.

Shayla had a cough that wouldn’t go away. Thinking it might be sinusitis, she eventually asked her dad, Tom, to take her to the doctor. After school one day, they went to the hospital, planning to grab a meal afterwards.

However, the doctor’s diagnosis was shocking: Shayla had a large, cancerous tumor in her breast, which had caused one of her lungs to collapse. This was why she had been feeling unwell and couldn’t stop coughing.

Shayla’s condition was severe – she had advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite the devastating news, she and her dad had dinner at the hospital, not realizing that many more meals would follow in the pediatric oncology unit at Fairfax Hospital. Her father bought matching bracelets for them, a symbol of his unwavering support.

The next few years were tough. Shayla underwent numerous tests, blood transfusions, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and even suffered a cardiac arrest. Through it all, her father was by her side, sharing every moment of pain, hope, and bravery.

However, the treatments eventually stopped working. Tom had to face the hardest conversation with his daughter – telling her that she was going to die.

This conversation turned out to be incredibly profound and emotional. Shayla, in her innocence, asked her dad if she was still brave. Tom realized then that her fight against cancer was as much for him as it was for her.

Sadly, Shayla passed away a few days later. Tom was heartbroken, but he knew his daughter had fought bravely to the end. He shared their story to honor Shayla and all other children who have battled cancer.

Let’s remember Shayla’s courage and the importance of being attentive to our health, especially when symptoms persist.