In 2015, Ruth and Jonathan Scully were expecting their third child. The baby was due to be born in December 2015. Suddenly in October 2015, their son Nolan took ill. Initially, his symptoms appeared flu-like and not too serious. However, as Nolan deteriorated, it became apparent something was very wrong.
Nolan was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer, which was spreading quickly throughout his little body. Treatment, as well as public appeals to raise funds, began. Ruth and Jonathan also set up a Facebook page to document their son’s fight against cancer and raise awareness about this rare disease.
Sadly, the pair were informed by Nolan’s medical team that the cancer was no longer responding to treatment options. All that was left to do was make Nolan comfortable. Months after Nolan’s death, Ruth took to his Facebook page to give an account of his last moments and her words moved thousands across the world. She explains that Nolan told her he had been fighting the cancer for her, and narrates the painful conversation she had with her son, encouraging him to let go.
Ruth also described the heartbreaking moment she signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order for her son, and began preparing for the end. In the three days that followed, Nolan drifted in and out of consciousness and spent his last moments with loved ones laughing and playing games – a reflection of the playful nature many around the world had come to love about Nolan since his family began to document his illness.
On February 4 2017, while watching TV together, Ruth decided to take a shower. She says she was later told that Nolan shut his eyes as she walked into the shower, and drifted into a deep sleep. When she returned, his medical team had surrounded his bed and explained that he had slipped into a coma, and his life was ending. Ruth leapt to be by his side and, at this point something miraculous happened.
“My angel took a breath, opened his eyes, smiled at me and said ‘I Love You Mommy’, turned his head towards me and at 11:54 pm Sgt. Rollin Nolan Scully passed away as I was singing ‘You are My Sunshine’ in his ear.”
Nolan briefly came out of his coma to speak to his mother one final time before passing away. Looking back on her son’s brief life, Ruth proudly reflected on the lives he had touched but called for more to be done in order to stop cancer from claiming lives like Nolan’s.
“I look at everything he accomplished in 4 short years and can only think of what he could’ve accomplished with a longer life. But sadly because of Childhood Cancer (Rhabdomyosarcoma to be specific), the world and our family will miss out on someone so full of love, who just wanted to protect and serve. We HAVE to do better with funding, research, treatment options.”
Nolan will be sorely missed, but his legacy is already touching many lives and giving them hope. Condolences have poured in on his Facebook page, including emotional messages from people watching loved ones fight cancer.
Nolan Scully has proved that one’s impact is not always determined by the years in one’s life, but the life in one’s years. In four short years, he inspired many with his bravery, zest for life and love of fun. He will be sorely missed.