During the chaos of looming finals, deadlines, papers, projects and tests, students find themselves doing everything they can to simply make it to Thanksgiving break, much less have a positive outlook along the way. Paige Shields, senior Christian studies major, however, has a bit more on her mind than the stress of school during these upcoming holidays.
About a year ago, Shields began to notice symptoms of fatigue and dizziness. She was originally misdiagnosed with iron deficiency, but she said she wasn’t getting any better. After countless tests, the doctors later found that Shields’ bone marrow doesn’t produce red blood cells and, therefore, she now needs a bone marrow transplant.
“I’m in bone marrow failure, but they don’t know why,” said Shields. “They are trying to figure out what it is before I do a bone marrow transplant in the beginning of next year.”
Shields’ condition has worsened since its onset. Now instead of having blood transfusions every six weeks, she has to have one every five weeks. She recently had a port put in under her collarbone as a permanent IV because she said the doctors were unable to reach her veins during the last transfusion.
“It’s getting worse,” said Shields. “That’s why the port is so important, because my veins can’t hold the needles anymore.”
As of right now, Shields has had two bone marrow biopsies, a CT scan, a scan biopsy, given more than 60 viles of blood between the months of January and April, had eight transfusions and has been hospitalized because of a reaction to a blood transfusion, which she said almost killed her. According to Dr. Randall Douglass, assistant professor of Christian studies, if anyone were to have a reason to make excuses or be negative, “it would be Paige,” yet she is the one who “has never used her sickness as a way out.”
Shields said that through adversity, you can either be mad at God for it, or you can know that there is a greater purpose to it.
“It does no good to be mad and angry, but if you think that this is going to help someone else or it is going to lead just one person to Christ, then it has a purpose and a meaning,” said Shields.
Through pastoring, Douglass said he has seen a lot of suffering, with the most common responses asking ‘why me,’ which he has seen lead to bitterness. He added that with Paige, however, “it’s not a front of her saying ‘just trust in Jesus.’”
“She has exemplified how a true Christian should endure suffering,” said Douglass. “She knows whatever happens, there is a Savior… He is in control.”
Through this illness, Shields said it has made her more dependent on God for every moment and every morning.
She added that she is also using every opportunity she can to witness to doctors, nurses and patients. She said when the doctors would get upset about not knowing what was causing her sickness, she would point them back to God’s timing, saying, “It’s ok, we will find it when we need to know it. God will let us know when we need to know.”
Douglass referred to 1 Peter 4:19: “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Douglass said that God is in control, and man’s suffering hasn’t caught Him by surprise- He just wants people to trust Him.
“That’s what I see in Paige,” said Douglass. “She is truly suffering and weak, and yet she has entrusted herself to God and continues to do good.”
Douglass added that the Christian studies department prays for her every day.