Conway Family Shares Emotional Story & Honors Arkansas Children's Hospital
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Thousands of kids are treated at Arkansas Children's Hospital every year. It is a place of hope and healing and regularly we are able to share with you some of those stories. This one is a little different.
It starts five years ago and ends with a Conway family's focus to fight cancer and honor the nurses and doctors that treated both their daughters.
Eight years ago Travis and Amanda Mulhearn became parents for the first time when they had Davis-a perfectly healthy baby boy.
Amanda says, "...and after that I never felt the same and it was never the same and I knew that I wanted more children."
Two and half years later came a daughter -Charlotte Diane, but at just two weeks old she developed a rare heart infection and was rushed to Arkansas Children's Hospital.
"She had done great," says Amanda. "Really, really great and we had become very hopeful."
But after multiple surgeries and a Berlin Heart, Charlotte developed sepsis and died at ACH at just six weeks old.
Amanda explains, "That is not something any parent should ever have to see."
Even through the unbearable heartache the Mulhearns say they were grateful for the extraordinary care Charlotte received at Childrens, unaware then, that just a few years later they would return to ACH with their third child, Stella Rose.
"She had had just minimal signs of something being wrong and then all of a sudden she couldn't walk," says Amanda. "She was two and a half when she was diagnosed with brain cancer, which was the worst day of my life."
Once again Amanda and Travis were facing the possibility of losing another child, Davis another sister. Their focus turned to preparing their beautiful, fiery, smart, baby girl for an incredible fight.
Amanda explains, "There's so many hospitals out there and whatever it is I'm gonna give her the best shot possible and made some calls to friends of mine that were doctors and such to try and get the info that I could to find out where's the best place for my baby to be treated what's gonna give her the best chance."
Amanda says all signs pointed right back to Little Rock and in October of 2011 Children's became their second home once again.
"Travis and I lived at the hospital," says Amanda.
And Stella, which means 'star', shined there even after undergoing brain surgery and intense chemo.
Showing off a picture of Stella, Amanda says, "That's her personality right there. That was all her - hat, boa everything."
Doctors and nurses fell in love with her.
Amanda tells us, "She had a princess chair that she rolled around in."
Through social networking Stella's story began to spread. Amanda shared their daily ups and downs on Caring Bridge.
At one point I can remember with all the chemo and everything I looked at her and let her know you know Stella you're very sick and she was yes - you know and I said we're trying to make you better so I know you feel bad and that this isn't easy but I want you to know that Mommy and Daddy are doing everything we can to make you better. 21:32
Over a million people visited her personal website, left messages and prayed for Stella.
Amanda says, "People hoped with us and, um, it was hard to tell those people, too she wasn't gonna make it."
On April 2nd 2012 doctors told the Mulhearns the chemo wasn't responding and the cancer had spread. They lost her the next day. Stella was almost three years old.
Stella's big brother Davis says with tears in his eyes, "It's very hard. It's hard and I found out. I cried a lot and I was very sad. Two of my little sisters passed away. I'm the only one left and I don't have anyone to play with me and it was very hard."
Amanda explains, "You're not supposed to watch your babies die. Period. That's the worst thing in my life. Um with that said the nurses that we had the doctors that we had made those experiences, as terrible as the were, the best situation possible."
And that's why even through the grief, Amanda, Travis and Davis are sharing their story and supporting a race and family run to help raise money for the hospital they love.
Amanda says, "I want to give back to the people that gave so much to us and I want my community who has supported me through everything and who has said what can we do, what can we do and me say, I don't know what you can do - now I can say I know what you can do, I've got something for you to do and it's this race."
As the Mulhearns continue to heal, they're not only raising money for Children's but also for cancer research.
"What my focus is from here is telling the world about my Stella and my Charlotte and saying let's beat this thing, let's do it together, let's do whatever we have to do this is where our money should go, this is what politics should be about," says Amanda. "Angry? - Yes, I think I'll always be mad. Right now my focus is being angry at cancer."
Freezin' for a Reason is being organized by the Faulkner County ACH Circle of Friends. You can register on the day of the race tomorrow morning at 8:30 am.
Freezin' for a Reason
Saturday, Feb 2
9:00am - 5K/10K
10:45 am - 2K Family Run
$35 for adults
13 and under are FREE
For more info: http://www.giving.archildrens.org/freezin