The Edmond Sun


October 23, 2012

Randy Schuneman

EDMOND — Sometimes, cancer survivors are individuals who haven’t suffered from the illness themselves. Sometimes the survivors are those who are left behind, once the disease has taken those who fought hard against it.

Randy Schuneman, who lost his daughter more than two years ago to liver cancer, knows how these survivors feel and has written a book describing his own experiences with such a loss.  

“When she was 4 years old, she was diagnosed with an ovarian teratoma, which is a multi-celled cancer of the ovary,” Schuneman said. “They had only 10 case studies, because it was so rare. One in three million. Teratomas aren’t that unusual, but maligant teratomas are unusual.”

The doctors were able to cure that cancer with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.

“The oncologist that was working with us said, ‘You’ll never have a problem again with this cancer,’ which was true,” Schuneman said. “The only problem was that they didn’t know, for a child 42 pounds, they didn’t know how much radiation and chemotherapy to give her, so they kept trying and they ended up giving her as much as she could have in her lifetime. The radiation caused a secondary cancer 28 years later, and she ended up dying from that.”

Before her death, Schuneman’s daughter, Jennie Schuneman, was a pediatric oncology nurse, able to sympathize with the children who were suffering and help their days be a little brighter.

“She kind of reminded me of Patch Adams, the way that she handled the children,” he said. “She wasn’t scared of being able to put on a clown’s nose. She learned to juggle, specifically so the kids could have something to watch her do. Every time someone came off chemotherapy, she would have a parade in the hospital and lead them around. She touched their lives to the point that when any of her patients died, she wrote a poem for each and every one of them. One of them is actually engraved on the child’s tombstone.”

While he was grieving, Schuneman wrote his book, “Conversations With An Angel,” remembering his daughter’s life and allowing his grief to pour out on the page.

“When I started looking for books, I couldn’t find anybody who had written — I’m sure they’re out there — I couldn’t find anybody who had written a book from the present tense. Maybe three years later, or eight years later, for one of them and 16 years later for another. I am two and a half years from that time and I realize that I am different now than I was after that first six months. I wanted to write it in the present tense and I wanted the raw emotions to still be there.

“As Christians there is a tendency for us to kind of sterilize the environment, to make it look better than it is. We should be able to handle these things. I was a pastor at the time and I realized I hurt just as much as anybody else did. It started out really as a book about the grieving process, but in it also, I started to realize how many times God had worked in her life, how many stories I had to tell. So there’s really two books in one. The first part is about her life and the second the process afterward.”

Schuneman advises other survivors to not try to bear their grief alone.

“Probably the most important thing is every type of loss is different,” he said. “My wife came across a statement that read, ‘when you lose a parent, you lose your past. When you lose a spouse, you lose your present. When you lose a child, you lose your future.’

“People will say things, because they don’t understand and really, to be quite honest, we went to counselors at the beginning and they looked at us and said, ‘I’ve never experienced that kind of loss.’ You need to find somebody — support groups are throughout the city — and be able to sit down with people that have gone through the loss of a child or the loss of a spouse. Realize that the worst thing you can do is try to keep all of those emotions in or be what other people expect you to be, because they don’t understand. You’ve just got to forgive them a lot of times.

“You are not alone. There are a lot of people who are hurting.”

Schuneman’s book, “Conversations With An Angel,” is available in paperback, Kindle and Nook editions. For more information about “Conversations With An Angel,” or to purchase a copy, visit

Text Only
  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crazy spring weather brings frantic pleas

    It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning. Tulips were blooming, squirrels were all a’skitter, my allergy-prone nose was running ninety-to-nothing, and workmen were in my yard leaning on rakes at $18 an hour. You might know I’d be anxious to remedy that! They were waiting to get started on spreading 60 bags of mulch, which I was belatedly on my way to reserve and pre-pay so they could pick it up and get started. Rush ... rush ... rush, and oh my aching back.

    April 19, 2014

  • Oklahoma History Center new home for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame has a new home at the Oklahoma History Center. Created in 1999, the hall of fame, operated by the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, has been housed the past several years at Oklahoma Christian University but there was no available space to display photographs and information on the inductees.

    April 18, 2014

  • pink.jpg Local children win Edmond Sun Easter coloring contest

    Two local children were named winners of The Edmond Sun’s Easter coloring contest. At left, Madsion Porter, 4, daughter of Tracy Porter, won a princess Easter basket, which included a tiara, tea set, stuffed bunny rabbit and chocolate rabbit. At right, BriAnna Harbaugh, 9, daughter of Leslie Haubaugh, won a Hello Kitty Easter basket, containing art supplies, a Hello Kitty stuffed animal and a chocolate bunny.  The families also received a three-month subscription to The Edmond Sun. For your own subscription to The Edmond Sun, visit, call 341-2121, or visit 123 S. Broadway.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Annual Turkish art and food festival set for April 26-27

    Raindrop Foundation is a nonprofit cultural organization that seeks to promote friendship and understanding through shared understanding and community experiences. This free event is set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 26 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27 at 4444 N. Classen Blvd., Oklahoma City.
    This year Raindrop Foundation will bring cultural entertainment and education to Oklahoma City area by presenting the Annual Turkish Art and Food Festival. The festival will feature Turkish folk dances, traditional music, water marbling art, whirling dervishes, calligraphy, traditional art of felting, China pieces as well as original arts and crafts for sale to the public.

    April 18, 2014

  • Health seminar focuses on Oklakhoma’s high suicide rate

    OU Outreach and Norman Regional Health System are offering a new health seminar titled “Circle of Care Methodology: Risk Assessment and Prevention of Suicide.” The seminar will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24 at the Norman Regional Hospital Education Center. Suicide touches many people’s lives. This seminar focuses on the Circle of Care Methodology, which engages a holistic and mitigating approach to the issues and care that is required to address suicidal ideations, attempts, completions and the aftermath.
    The cost is $45 per person, and seating is limited. There will be free parking onsite for all seminar attendees. For more information, visit

    April 18, 2014

  • Film documentary explores hunger in America

    The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma will host a screening of the 2012 documentary, “A Place at the Table,” at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Food Bank Volunteer Center, 3355 S. Purdue, Oklahoma City. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The story documents the struggle of food insecure people in the United States.
    Author Joel Berg will be present as a featured guest. Guests also will have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion about the issue of hunger in our communities. The screening is free, but seating is limited to 275 people. For more information, go online to

    April 18, 2014

  • Nominations being accepted for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation is accepting nominations through June 1 for inductees into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. Oklahoma veterans including Medal of Honor recipients have been being honored by the hall of fame since 1999. A banquet and ceremony honoring those selected this year for the hall of fame will be Nov. 8 at the Tower Hotel, formerly Marriott Hotel, at 3233 Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City.
    Nominees can be living or deceased. Nomination forms can be obtained by writing to the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 30658, Edmond, OK, 73003; or on the foundation’s website at

    April 18, 2014

  • Annual wheelchair basketball tournament set

    OU Medicine will present the 6th Annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, benefiting the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association, April 24 at Oklahoma City University. Teams from OU Medicine administration, anesthesiology, neurosurgery, nursing, otolaryngology, surgery and urology, and a team from 180 Medical will compete in 10-minute exhibition basketball games against wheelchair athletes from GODSA. All participants will compete in wheelchairs.
    The free event will begin at 5:40 p.m. at OCU’s Freede Wellness Center, 2501 N. Blackwelder Ave. Fundraising activities including a silent auction, baked goods sale and more. Funds will help GODSA athletes purchase sports equipment and travel for national basketball tournaments. For more information, call 271-6900.

    April 18, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 18, 2014