BY JACLYN ROSE –
When Pamela Bell moved from California to Arkansas in 1983 she was looking for a new start for herself and her 18 month old daughter, Shauna. In 1986, she met her to-be husband, Hershel, and in 1989 they married and combined their families. “Hershel had three children: Wendy McDaniel, Clint Bell, and Jennifer Hayes, and he adopted Shauna. Then we had our youngest, Cheyenne Bell. When it comes to our marriage we couldn’t do it without God. We couldn’t do anything without Him,” explained Pamela.
In 2000, Shauna graduated from Van-Cove High School and married her schoolgirl crush, Jacob Wagner, in 2002. They had two children, Jordan and Hayden, and planned on having two more children when Shauna miscarried in September of 2010.
Right before Shauna’s miscarriage Pamela felt a strong urgency to not begin the new school year in her position as a seventh through ninth grade business teacher for the Cossatot River School District. “I didn’t know why but I just didn’t want to go back to work. I knew God was telling me that I didn’t need to go, but we needed the money so I went back, the whole time knowing that I wasn’t supposed to,” explained Pamela.
After Shauna’s miscarriage she was told revisit Dr. Mesko six months later to see if she could keep trying for more children. At the same time, out of nowhere, Pamela began having seizures, which were later determined to be stress seizures. With that diagnosis, her family believed it was time for her to put in her resignation. “I knew something was coming up and that God wanted my full attention on it,” said Pamela.
A week before the follow up for her miscarriage, Shauna found a painful knot in her breast. “Dr. Mesko said that I wasn’t high risk for breast cancer and he wanted to see me back in six months for a recheck. The lump got bigger and more painful and the end of January, first of February, I was sent to a surgeon who did a mammogram and ultrasound,” explained Shauna. A biopsy on February 11, 2011, found that Shauna had breast cancer and by the time she met with doctors at UAMS in Little Rock, it had moved to her lymph nodes.
Shauna then began her treatment, six rounds of chemo, one every three weeks. However, after her first round of chemo, Shauna developed an infection that landed her in the hospital for six days of complete isolation. Her mother would drive from Mena to Cove every night to stay with her so Shauna’s husband could care for their children. “The first night Hayden got sick and I laid in bed crying because my baby was sick and I couldn’t take care of him. My mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘I know the feeling,’” explained Shauna. Later that week, Pamela was getting ready to head to the hospital with Shauna while her youngest daughter begged her to stay home with them. After struggling with leaving her family, Pamela got in her car and proceeded to have a heated conversation with God, begging Him to take the cancer from Shauna and give it to her. “For the first time, I audibly heard God and He said, ‘This is not your battle, it is hers, if I wanted you to have it I would have given it to you. She will have a greater testimony than you because you are ready to go, she is not. She will fight, you wouldn’t.’ It was so clear and I knew He had it under control. I said, ‘ok it’s your way, I accept it,’” said Pamela.
On August 11, 2011, Shauna underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction and was declared cancer free, but was told she would never be able to become pregnant. However, God had other plans and in January of 2013, Shauna found out she was pregnant with her daughter, Summer, born in September of 2013 completely healthy, their ‘angel baby’ and again in July of 2015, Shauna gave birth to Abigail, another healthy baby girl. “When people would ask how many kids Jacob and I wanted, we always wanted four, and that was exactly what God allowed us to have,” said Shauna with a smile.
In December of 2012, Pamela went in for a mammogram and there was something found, but she put off further testing at the time. In late 2013, after more testing, she was sent immediately to UAMS and had a biopsy that day, the radiologist said with complete certainty that it was cancer. “The doctor said that I didn’t seem too concerned and I told him that I had asked God for this and he didn’t understand. I explained to him that God had healed my daughter and I was ok with taking it. What’s the worst that can happen, if I die I live in Heaven, if I don’t I live here. Shauna has so much to do, she has babies to raise; I’ve lived. If the Lord is ready to bring me home, I’m ready to go,” explained Pamela.
Pamela then went on to receive six rounds of chemo, teaching her business classes through it all. “My kids joked right along with me, they were all excited to see how much my hair would grow, they really went along the journey with me,” explained Pamela. After a bilateral mastectomy that went all the way back to the chest wall, a PET scan revealed a 6 mm nodge. In the near future, Pamela will have further testing to determine if that has grown, but today she continues to stand on the truth that God is in control and she cannot do anything to change that.
Throughout this entire journey, the love and support of their family and friends, kept Pamela and Shauna going. “Hershel was so supportive, he told me, ‘don’t look back for me, because I’ll be ahead of you the whole way.’ The rest of my family was also so supportive, we had been trying to sell our farm for several years with no luck. After I was diagnosed, in January of 2014, a family became interested in it. After my surgery in March, I came home to a new house, which my family helped unpack and get ready for me. The Lord looked after us every step of the way,” said Pamela. “My family was so supportive too, from bringing us meals, to watching kids while I slept, from running errands to driving me to Little Rock for treatments. And Jacob was amazing. He took care of me, kept the house clean, bought groceries, and took care of the kids, all while working full time. The love, support, and prayers we had from family and friends was overwhelming,” added Shauna.