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Parents of eight children each have cancer, move forward with faith

The Haws’ children have survived meningitis; a serious head injury; reconstructive surgeries for a cleft palate; autism; and Hogkin’s lymphoma. Now, it's their parents turn. Each has a cancer diagnosis, but their faith keeps them pressing on
Megan Christensen, Deseret News Modified: July 8, 2014 at 11:31 am •  Published: July 8, 2014

While raising eight kids, Shane and Amy Haws have doctored more than their share of bumps and bruises.

In the last nine years, the Haws’ children have survived meningitis; a serious head injury; reconstructive surgeries for a cleft palate; autism; and even Stage 4 Hogkin’s lymphoma.

And just when the emergency room couldn’t get more familiar, Amy and Shane each received a cancer diagnosis.

Amy was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer last November.

“When I found out I had cancer, I knew the statistics and prognosis, so I wasn’t even that upset about it,” Amy said. “I was more concerned about my kids and how they’d feel after watching their sister Shailynn go through cancer.”

Although she felt really sick, Amy downplayed her illness for her kids so they wouldn’t be scared.

“(My kids) did pretty good because I knew I was going to be OK,” she said. “I knew I could look them in the face and say I’d be fine.”

But it would be three rounds of chemotherapy, a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy before she would begin to approach fine.

In April, between her hysterectomy and mastectomy, Shane and Amy celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in Las Vegas.

While there, Shane had trouble standing due to dizziness.

“They thought he had vertigo, so they sent him to a physical therapist for a few weeks and it wasn’t getting better, so I took him to the E.R.,” Amy said.

In the emergency room, Shane got an MRI that revealed a 2-inch brain tumor.

After surgery, the doctors determined the worst. He had Stage 4 lung cancer, the same cancer his sister died from in 2013.

In mid-May, they learned that his type of lung cancer was more aggressive than others. It spread to his brain, lymph nodes and adrenal glands.

It was a grim prognosis that meant he’d have to endure Gamma Knife Radiation.

Since radiation, he hasn’t been able to go to work, but in the midst of these great trials, Amy said he carries an amazing positive attitude.

“He keeps saying, ‘I’m going to be fine. I don’t care what the statistics say,’” Amy said. “If attitude is everything, he’ll be just fine."

Amy, however, took the news of Shane’s diagnosis harder than her own.

“It’s one thing to have to stare your own mortality in the face, but to have it be your husband is worse,” she said. “I feel like I’m in a hard spot because I have to face reality and prepare my kids if anything happens.”

But after seeing their daughter Shailynn have such a positive attitude while facing Hogkin’s lymphoma, Amy said it is hard not to do the same, especially when they pay attention to the miracles in their life.

“You want to be angry and you want to be mad at somebody, but with all the positive things that happen it’s hard to deny we’re blessed,” she said. “As hard as it is, we have much more to be grateful for than we do to be angry about.”

One event they are grateful for occurred the week Shane was diagnosed.

Amy was supposed to have her bilateral mastectomy two days before, but it got rescheduled because of an error in the scheduling system.

If she‘d had the surgery, Shane wouldn’t have been able to get into the emergency room when he did, and his health would have quickly declined.

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