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Student cancer patient visits New Orleans

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Student cancer patient visits New Orleans

Mary Shannon smiles as her father takes her picture at Corpus Christi International Airport on Jan 29. Shannon went on a trip with fellow cancer patients to New Orleans.

Mary Shannon smiles as her father takes her picture at Corpus Christi International Airport on Jan 29. Shannon went on a trip with fellow cancer patients to New Orleans.

Photo by Blaine Young

Mary Shannon smiles as her father takes her picture at Corpus Christi International Airport on Jan 29. Shannon went on a trip with fellow cancer patients to New Orleans.

Photo by Blaine Young

Photo by Blaine Young

Mary Shannon smiles as her father takes her picture at Corpus Christi International Airport on Jan 29. Shannon went on a trip with fellow cancer patients to New Orleans.

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Driscoll Children’s Hospital cancer patient Mary Shannon got the opportunity of a lifetime – a trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Before boarding the plane with three other Driscoll patients on Monday, Jan 29., a smile spread across freshman Shannon’s face as she thought about the week to come. With all the people and TV cameras focused on the teenagers, it was apparent that they weren’t used to this kind of attention. Shannon smiled shyly as the cameraman interviewed her and the others.

The Sunshine Kids, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing free events to children being treated for cancer, contacted Driscoll Children’s Hospital with the opportunity. Driscoll nurses and doctors decided who was best fit to go on the trip. They chose Shannon and three other youths from South Texas.

Shannon was very excited when she heard she could escape her usual routine for seven days.

“It’s really nice to be able to actually do something that’s not in Corpus, where I’ve been for the past year or two,” Shannon said. “I was just real excited that I could go somewhere.”

Leah Nawrocki, a member of the Driscoll Children’s Hospital team, helped to organize and select the kids to go on the trip.

“It’s a really cool feeling because we get to see them branch out of their comfort zone,” Nawrocki said. “We get to see them try new things, even if they talk about how scary it might be. It’s really rewarding to see them make friends with each other, to have that experience they can bond over.”

Shannon Broughton, a nurse who has worked with all four of the Driscoll patients, went to New Orleans with them as a chaperone.

“They’ve all been through tough treatment,” Broughton said. “They’ve had a rough road, and for Sunshine Kids to reach out and do this for them and to give them this experience – I’m so excited for them. I’m excited that I get to watch them enjoy it.”

Shannon’s mom, Angela Reneau, said that she felt comfortable leaving her daughter in Broughton’s care.

“She’s with Shannon, who has been her nurse since the beginning, and she’s kind of like family,” Reneau said. “I trust her with my child’s life. I’ll miss her, but I’m so happy she’s getting to experience this, and I know she’s in awesome hands.”

Shannon hadn’t heard of the Sunshine Kids prior to this trip.

“When I found out (about the Sunshine Kids), I looked it up and saw what they did,” Shannon said. “I think it’s really amazing what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.”

The group returned from New Orleans on Sunday, Feb. 4.

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Student cancer patient visits New Orleans