The Edmond Sun

Features

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 jennieshoe.com.

1
Text Only
Features
  • Shopping smarter for family necessities can help the environment

    There’s a growing trend among consumers to make choices reflecting the goals and values that matter to them most.  In fact, two out of five people say they’re more inspired to try a natural product that does something good for themselves, their family and the planet, according to a recent study conducted by Toluna for natural products brand Tom’s of Maine.

    July 21, 2014

  • Back to school lunch Build a better bag

    Brown bag lunches and back to school go hand in hand. As you’re gearing up for the start of a new school year, it’s the perfect time to stock the pantry with healthy sack lunch options and after school snacks, too.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pets

    This is a list of animals that have been found and are at the Edmond Animal Shelter, at Interstate 35 and Covell in the Cross Timbers Municipal Complex. Call the shelter at 216-7615 for more information.

    July 21, 2014

  • Kids Cook Simple ways canned foods get children cooking

    When it comes to teaching children about healthy eating habits, there’s no better classroom than the kitchen.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls The Canebrake offers summer recipe for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls

    The Canebrake, a destination hotel and spa in Wagoner, is offering the following recipe from its restaurant for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls with Avocado Wasabi Puree.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 21, 2014

  • Quilt Edmond Quilt Guild celebrates 10th anniversary with event

    Quilting has evolved over the years and now, more than ever it is looked at as an art form.
    Edmond’s Quilt Guild is sponsoring its fourth quilt show and festival celebrating its 10th anniversary at the same time this week and inviting area residents to come and check out some of the newest types of quilting.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ryan by horse statue.jpg Good Samaritan who lost his leg ‘Keeps Moving Forward’

    He is an uncommon hero, this Good Samaritan who saved another man’s life and in doing so lost his left leg. Now his friends and family are reaching out to help him.
    While assisting a stranded motorist on Nov. 9, 2011, Edmond resident and Santa Fe High School graduate Tyler Ryan was hit and pinned against the back bumper of a car by an inattentive motorist on 15th Street in front of Crest Supermarket.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arthritis Foundation names Devon Energy Corp. CEO as 2014 honoree

    The Arthritis Foundation this week announced that John Richels, Chief Executive Officer, Devon Energy Corp., will be this year’s honoree at the 25th Annual Tribute to Excellence Dinner scheduled for Oct. 22 at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.  Richels will be recognized for his leadership, commitment and dedication to charitable and civic causes in the communities Devon serves across Oklahoma and throughout North America.
    The Arthritis Foundation’s Annual Tribute to Excellence Dinner recognizes outstanding Oklahomans in the public and private sectors for their exemplary work, as well as for their personal and professional contributions to society.

    July 18, 2014

  • Garden Yard of the Week winner Thompson preserves local history, beauty

    There is always movement and activity around the outskirts of the University of Central Oklahoma campus, but this week’s Edmond’s Yard of the Week winner, Sharon Thompson at 631 N. University, calms the area with a combination of Edmond’s slower past history and a current Zen peacefulness of nature in harmony. Her home is adjacent to more Edmond history — Gossett Park, honoring a 50-year Kiwanis member.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo