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Shea’s Story

In August 2008, at age 14, our daughter Shea was diagnosed with nodular sclerosing Hodgkins lymphoma. For nearly four years, she underwent a variety of treatment protocols, including two stem cell transplants and experimental t-cell therapy, before she passed away on July 25, 2012.

We remain extremely grateful for the wonderful support from friends, family, members of our community, even perfect strangers who reached out to help ease the burden of medical and travel expenses related to experimental treatment in New York. 

Shea's journey began July 2008, when she began to lose her voice. Visits to the pediatrician ruled out mono and strep, so we were referred to an ear-nose-throat specialist. He found that her left vocal cord wasn't functioning (unilateral vocal cord paralysis). He felt it was probably caused by a virus, but ordered a brain MRI and CT scans of neck and chest to rule out an obstruction of the nerve leading to the vocal cord.

On Friday, August 22, Shea underwent the tests. We were shocked to learn that there was a grapefruit-sized mass in her chest, on the right side in the area between the heart and the collarbone. Because the mass surrounded her windpipe, we were told to come into Children's Memorial Hospital immediately. Apparently they feared that she could stop breathing in her sleep.

When they saw her, however, they were impressed by her healthy appearance, and also by the fact that she had survived two weeks of band camp without experiencing any shortness of breath or fatigue. In fact, other than the strained voice, she showed no other symptoms. This was very good news. But after a painful biopsy surgery, we heard the words no parent is prepared to hear. Shea had Hodgkins Lymphoma, nodular sclerosing variant. Further tests showed her cancer to be stage 2A.

Between the end of August and December 1, 2008, Shea underwent five rounds of chemotherapy. Her treatment included the following:

Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) - day 1 and 2
Bleomycin - day 1 and 8
Vincristine - day 1 and 8
Etoposide (VP-16) - days 1,2,3
Prednisone - days 1-7
Cytoxan - day 1
Mesna - day 1
Zofran - as needed for nausea
Bactrim - 3 days/week
Neulasta - once every 3 weeks

While Shea was able to have most of her treatment as an outpatient, she was admitted to Children's twice after spiking fevers. She battled a bacterial infection as well as an allergic reaction to Bleomycin, and we learned to be especially cautious when her counts were low. In spite of it all, Shea managed to keep her spirits up and her crazy sense of humor intact, thanks to the support of family, friends, neighbors and strangers. It took a tough situation to make us understand how truly blessed we were.

A month after completing chemotherapy, Shea had 14 days of radiation -- the last day was January 22, 2009. She was OT -- off treatment -- until April, when PET and CT scans showed no significant changes.  Unfortunately, she began to display some worrisome symptoms (itching, night sweats, weight loss) a few weeks later.  Scans at the end of June showed that her disease had returned and had spread to her lungs.  Because of her new symptoms and the increase in the tumor's size, her Hodgkin's Lymphoma was then staged at 4B.  Chemotherapy began again on June 29th, with a stem cell transplant to follow in the future.

Thank you to all the prayer warriors out there who supported us during those difficult months. We are SO GRATEFUL for all the support, encouragement, meals, gifts, cards, calls and prayers. Friends and family near and far kept us going during long and arduous months that wore hard on our family. We can never repay the kindness that we received during Shea's illness and following her passing.

Thanks for visiting Shea's site, and be sure to leave a note in the guestbook. We love hearing from our friends!

The Anderluh Family

Liz, John, Megan (23), Shea (forever 18), and Jamie (15)



Latest Journal Update

Twenty-one years ago...

Shea was born on June 1, 1994. At 8 pounds, 14 ounces she was the biggest of our three daughters. She revealed her unique spirit by coming out face-first, and attracted much attention from the L&D nurses with her colorful bruises and swollen facial features... of course, in my eyes, she was beautiful and perfect!

Today we remember her, the eighteen years we had with her, and the impact she made on those who knew her. Clearly, her reach extended well beyond her circle of friends; people all over the world have posted Facebook posts and tributes in response to an event planned by her sister Megan, a virtual birthday party for Shea. John and I have been touched beyond measure by the words and pictures shared by so many online. It is really comforting to know that Shea is remembered and missed by so many.  I'm not sure if this link is viewable (Facebook privacy settings...) but I'll post it anyway.

John and I visited Shea's grave on Saturday, and reflected on what Shea would have been like, at 21. It's so hard to guess, given that her high school years were so greatly impacted by her illness, and those years are so formative. What college would she be attending? What would she be studying? Would she still be the maker of hilarious facial expressions, loving and playing music, loving and playing Rock Band and Kingdom Hearts, into anime and cartooning and the Black Hawks and Bears? We like to think that she, of all our girls, might have chosen to attend our alma mater Michigan, given her passion for sports. Perhaps she, like me, would have volunteered at the Huron Valley Humane Society, walking and playing with the dogs she loved so much. I can only hope that she's playing with Sam and Guinness on the other side, with her Grandpa Joe watching over her. We miss her. We miss them all.
52 people hearted this



Denise Marshall
By Denise Marshall — last edited
Prayers, what a beautiful family....My mom had non Hodgkins a few years back, haven't done much searching on the difference but need to
Catharine Abid
By Catharine Abid
I am honored that you have shared so much - my daughter's battle with Hodgkins has followed so closely to Shea's and we have been inspired by your postings. Thank you, our hearts are with you and your family. Shea was truly special!!
Lynn Duncan
By Lynn Duncan, Fountain Valley CA
Shea, from what I saw, was awesome and I think we can be sure she would still be awesome (and undoubtedly is..).
Kathy Nitschke
By Kathy Nitschke
I cannot possibly know the intimate joys and the paralyzing pain that you have gone through - first, having Shea in your lives with smiles and tears and joys; then, facing the incredible loss when she had to leave. I can, however, recognize the deep love that exists in your beautiful family, that never-ending love. My prayers go out to you today, and always, as they have for so long a time. My love....
1 person hearted this
Kerri Weiss
By Kerri Weiss
sending you love and praying that Jesus Christ comforts your hearts.
Debbie Konrad
By Debbie Konrad
Hugs to all of you...Shea's spirit lives on in the hearts of everyone who knew her...
Jeremy Hornik
By Jeremy Hornik
Sending love to all the Anderluhs today.
Kathy McGourty
By Kathy McGourty
Shea and all of you have been in my thoughts and prayers all day, all weekend. Sending <3
Adina Horowitz
By Adina Horowitz
🎈 Happy Birthday Shea!
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