Sarah Rhodes of Norman, Oklahoma, has had quite the journey.
Sarah was young. 28-years-old. She was full of life and was madly in love with her husband, Joel, 32.
The couple loved their life together. Young and healthy, they had their whole lives ahead of them, or so they thought.
A month after completing a half-marathon, Joel was told that he had kidney cancer. Both were awestruck as to how that was possible.
“The only indication of anything wrong was the blood he had noticed in his urine -kidney stones, we had assumed.”
From there, their lives were turned upside down.
Instead of workout together, the couple flew back and forth between their home and Houston for Joel’s treatments.
There was finally a bit of hope a year later when they were told that Joel’s cancer was in remission. Now, they could focus on what they had been trying to achieve for years – having a baby.
“The 5 years before Joel’s illness had been filled with trips to doctors, tests, medicines, anything and everything we could do to get pregnant.”
Doctors were stumped on why the couple couldn’t get pregnant. But they were offered an option: in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The couple couldn’t wait to get started. But they would be set back again.
“Our first doctor’s appointment to begin had already been set, and then… cancer.”
But the couple had thought of every possible scenario so they had a plan.
“…we knew chemo could mess with a man’s sperm, possibly even rendering him sterile. Before Joel began his first round of chemo, we chose to freeze his sperm.”
Finally, Sarah became pregnant!
Initially, they were twins but only one survived – a baby boy.
Just days before Sarah’s due date, the doctors found a spot on Joel’s lung that was an “area of concern.”
“They wanted to test out the spot immediately to see what it could be. We knew. We didn’t want to know. But we knew.”
Sarah gave birth to their son, Milo, and two days later, it was confirmed that cancer had spread to Joel’s lungs.
“He jumped right back into chemo. We did it all over again, only this time with a baby. It was hard, doubly hard. But we pressed on, because now the stakes were even higher.”
The couple finally decided to remove part of Joel’s lung but then Joel began having strokes.
He passed away at 35-years-old.
Sarah was devasted.
She struggled with deciding whether she should use her last embryo to have another baby. After all, she and Joel had discussed this and she knew it was what he would have wanted.
He told her:
“‘You and I are going to have another baby. It will be a girl, you know what to name her.’”
Her name would be Ellis.
The procedure was a success and a year and a half later, she gave birth to a healthy little girl.
But tragedy soon struck again when Ellis became extremely sick. At just two weeks old, Ella’s health deteriorated and she was put on a ventilator.
She had sepsis and bacterial meningitis.
Little Ellis fought for her life with little success. Scans revealed “irreversible brain damage.” Sarah was told the results of the scan were “incompatible with life” and was advised to say her goodbyes.
Heartbroken, Sarah had the ventilator removed and proceeded to hold her daughter.
“As I rocked her back and forth, skin-to-skin, she suddenly began to breathe on her own, after not breathing on her vent in a week.”
Miraculously, her vitals stabilized and they were sent home the next day! Doctors and nurses were stunned.
Ella survived and is thriving. Though she attends therapy regularly, she is the “sassiest member” of the family.
Sarah found love again with her high school sweetheart. They married and have five children combined. The couple had their first child together and she couldn’t be any more thrilled!
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Source: Love What Matters