MOORE TO THE STORY: Tragedy, Strength and Faith

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In the past month or so I’ve done some very touching stories that show the power of overcoming tragedies, the strength it takes to get there and how faith can play a big role.

This week I got to meet a beautiful little 6-year-old named Stella Turnbull from Pella. Stella was born healthy but when she was only a month old her parents knew something wasn’t right. After a trip to the Mayo Clinic, Stella was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy or SMA. It’s a genetic neuromuscular disease that weakens all of the body’s muscles, including the ability to swallow, digest food and even breath. Stella’s parents; Travis and Sarah were told this was the most severe case of SMA they had ever seen.  Doctors gave Stella just weeks to live. There is no cure and doctors sent them home to spend what little time they had with her.  Can you even imagine being told there was nothing anyone could do to save your one month old baby? The Turnbull’s wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Sarah called every doctor she could find to try to save Stella’s life. Eventually doctors at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital said they could help! With a specialized plan, Stella is beating the odds.  She is now a sassy 6-year-old girl who loves the color purple, Taylor Swift and princesses. This weekend Stella will be representing the Hawks as their Kid Captain!  The family are big Hawkeye fans and they hope Stella’s story helps get the word out about SMA.  It’s the most common cause of death in infants, but clinical trials are underway so there is hope. Hope for other kids and hope for Stella.  Here’s more information on SMA.  If you missed Stella’s Story make sure to check it out, you will fall in love with this little girl. #TeamStella

Another tragic story I covered last month was a love story.  Nate and Laura Yoho met at the gym both of them were trainers.  After dating and getting engaged Laura found out she had a cancerous brain tumor with only a two percent survival rate.  Between three major brain surgeries and radiation treatments the two got married. laura yoho Next came the talk starting a family, but Laura knew she would be too weak to carry a baby .  Her best friend stepped in to be a surrogate.  We all have best friends in our lives, but to be willing to carry a baby for a friend is a huge commitment.  As her friend was carrying the couple’s baby girl, Laura’s cancer returned.  This past July she lost her battle at the age of 30. I was able to interview her husband Nate and tell their amazing story.  He showed an amount of strength that many people wouldn’t have under these circumstances. Baby Caralyn is due in December and Nate’s been preparing for her arrival.  Through tragedy came a gift, a part of Laura that will live on.  At 30 years old Nate had to deal with losing his amazing wife, and now has to prepare for being a single Dad.  If that doesn’t show strength and faith at work I don’t know what does.  Here’s Laura Yoho’s Story 

The last story I want to share seems like it’s out of a movie. 24-year-old Caitlin Francomb thought for weeks she just had a stomach bug.  After trips to the walk-in-clinic, Caitlin went to Methodist where doctors found a mass.  They said a tumor, about the size of a football, was wrapped around her liver.  Doctors gave her just weeks to live. Can you imagine thinking you just have a stomach bug to finding out you might not be around next month.  This is whereCaitlin FrancombCaitlin’s strength shined.  Doctors decided to perform a surgery to see if anything could be done, if not they were sending the 24-year-old off to hospice. A radical surgery was suggested, it had only successfully been completed a handful of times in the U.S. and never performed in Iowa.  The surgery cut off blood flow to Caitlin’s liver, with it packed down with ice, doctors were able to remove the tumor and reconstruct the blood vessels.  Two-thirds of her liver was removed, but Caitlin was told she would make a full recovery! Caitlin hopes her story encourages others to listen to their body if something isn’t quite right. Here’s Caitlin Francomb’s Story

All three of these stories show how people right here in Iowa overcome tragedies everyday and left this reporter inspired.