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Fostering hope: Doctor learns about being a mother to child with cancer

Dr. Rene McNall-Knapp first met Jordan when he was 3. He was receiving chemotherapy at The Children's Hospital where she works as a pediatric cancer specialist.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: May 11, 2013

Dr. Rene McNall-Knapp remembers the moment her bond with her son started.

It was a Friday night, one of the first nights she spent in the hospital with him.

The night started with 3-year-old Jordan sleeping in his hospital bed, and McNall-Knapp in a guest bed in his room. She soon found a cuddling child sleeping next to her.

“He made it really easy to love him,” she said.

McNall-Knapp and her husband, Ryan, adopted Jordan, now 12, from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services foster care system after first serving as his foster parents. She and her husband have two other sons, Carter, 10, and Cooper, 14.

McNall-Knapp first met Jordan when he was 3. He was receiving chemotherapy at The Children's Hospital where she works as a pediatric cancer specialist.

Jordan had lost his eye to retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer that usually develops in early childhood, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. By the time he saw an ophthalmologist for the eye cancer, it was too far gone, and they had to take out his eye.

McNall-Knapp learned while Jordan was a patient at the hospital that DHS was having trouble finding a foster home for him.

“Even the shelter wouldn't take him because he had cancer, and they thought it was too dangerous for him to be in the shelter, and no foster parents would agree to take him because he had cancer,” she said.

“The night before I saw him in the clinic, he and his social worker spent the night in the DHS office sleeping on the couches. I heard that, and I was like, ‘Can I do something about this? I'm not scared of cancer.'”

McNall-Knapp and her husband soon welcomed Jordan into their home. They promised him that he would either go home with his parents or be with their family for the rest of his life. They didn't want him bouncing from foster family to foster family.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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