From a Mother
By Sylvia Hernandez
After numerous headaches, vomiting, blurred vision and pain, we headed to the small clinic where our baby girl would get her first of many scans—CT, MRI—all too numerous to count. It was raining that day, I was scared and she must have sensed it. As we drove, she said, "Mommy, I'm not afraid of dying."
Tears filled my eyes and sadness overcame me. "What made you say that, baby?" I asked, looking at her through the rearview mirror.
"God talks to me," she replied.
It was the first of many conversations that would challenge my faith. We danced in the waiting room, I held her tightly and people must have thought we were crazy. Her long, curly dark hair swung side to side against the back of her little schoolgirl uniform. She looked so cute. She had just started pre-K in Wichita. I was so proud to be her mommy.
A Life-Altering Phone Call
We drove home, got settled in and, somehow, I decided not to worry. She said she felt tired so she got ready for a nap. Then the phone rang. The pediatrician had to repeat himself. "Take her to the ER. I'll meet you there. We found a mass in her brain."
I walked outside our apartment and fell to the ground, holding my head, crying with so much sorrow and fear. The thoughts raced: How am I going to tell her dad? What do I do?
I got him on the phone and the sound he made I will never forget: "No, no, no." I called my sister, a physician. "I'm on my way," she said.
We headed to the local emergency room and my baby was admitted to the hospital. I began my search for a hospital that could help her and when I found Children's Mercy, I also found one of the best neurosurgeons.
Finding Peace at Children's Mercy
We made our way to Kansas City, a huge caravan of people who absolutely adored our little girl. I'll never forget the drive. I'll never forget the overwhelming sense of peace that came over me when we pulled up to Children's Mercy.
From the outside, Children's Mercy appeared to be the right place, from the musical clock in the front circle drive to the red rocket parking level. Inside, there were the friendly volunteers and staff who greeted us. The same feeling of peace calmed me over and over and over again as we walked these halls and spent many nights and days here
After 18 months and more than 300 visits/appointments and inpatient days, I can still say, it's the right place. Her doctors, nurses, and many other staff and volunteers partnered with us, respected us, cried with us and shared in our joys. They were real. They were committed to be on our journey. I will never forget that!
Yes, kids and families lose battles with cancer—even some with the same diagnosis as my baby (medulloblastoma), but hope is real at Children's Mercy. I saw it in the faces of the people who cared for her and our family night after night. People give 110 percent because the patients and families are No. 1.
Returning the Favor
Today, I am one of the team members at Children's Mercy. I am one of those people that get to give 110 percent for patients and families. I understand deeply what the care and support can do for a patient and family. I am dedicated to our mission—I felt it, it's real.
It is such a big part of our daughter's story and our family history. Isabella loves this place. Sometimes she'll ask me, "Is Children's Mercy No. 1?"