Meet Amanda Cole, KCMB’s Mother of the Year

Last spring, Amanda Cole had a normal 19-month-old-daughter, Malina. But suddenly, she was unable to walk or even crawl. The cause, she would soon learn, was a mass in Malina’s lower spine, which eventually was diagnosed as a bone cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma.Malina-47
“We were in a whirlwind. Our world had just been turned upside down,” Amanda remembered.
Together, the family, including 6-year-old sister Jenna, entered a year of intensive treatment for Malina including chemotherapy and 31 days of radiation on her spine. Malina would get sick from the chemo – exhaustion, vomiting, pain – where the only thing Amanda could do was hold her. Amanda and her husband also strived to keep life as normal as possible for Jenna, who in the past year was able to finish preschool, start kindergarten and participate in dance and gymnastics.
It is her faith, Amanda said, that kept her going through the nightmare.
“I was dropping Jenna off with a sitter when Billy texted me and said, ‘we have an answer. hurry back.’ Malina had just gotten out of her MRI and was back in the ER with Billy. In that moment that I read his text, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace come over me. I could feel my Savior wrap His arms around me and tell me everything would be OK,” Amanda said. “I had no idea what was going on yet. It would still be days before we were told she had cancer. That feeling of peace has NEVER left me. I have been strengthened through this time knowing that Christ has walked with my family and has comforted us when we have needed it most.”0025
Emily Burneson, who knows Amanda through their church, said her friend’s strength and upbeat attitude in the midst of darkness was what made her nominate her for KCMB’s Mother of the Year award.
“Amanda seemed to carry those around her with her positivity. We all felt raised to a higher standard as we saw her smile through such heartache,” Emily said. “Being a mom is hard under any circumstance. Some days are just hard. Amanda helped all those around her to see sunshine among the clouds to find light in the dark places.”
The chemo may be over but Malina’s journey continues. Now a year later, Malina is learning to walk again with the help of in-home physical therapy. She has a catheter to go to the bathroom because her nerve function was cut off from the waist down from the tumor – a function the doctors are uncertain will return. She still is on and off prescriptions for the many side effects from her treatment.
Amanda walked with her daughter on this journey, sometimes alone, as her husband was away for job training. Her friends stepped up and helped with play dates for Jenna, brought meals, ran errands and cleaned the family’s house.
“We could not be more thankful for the generosity of so many people,” Amanda said. “Our family has been just as amazing with all their love and support. Many of them dropped what they had going on in their lives and rushed to be at our side.”
Amanda  hopes other moms facing difficult situations can learn to follow her motto, “think happy, be happy.”IMG_0654
“Look for a blessing in every day. Look for the blessings that have led up to your trial; those that have prepared you for your trial. Look for the blessings that can and will come from your trial. I have liked the quote by Thomas S. Monson: ‘He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.'”
Emily said that by watching the way Amanda has approached the last year as a mother to both her daughters, she is inspired to teach her children the same values.
“I want them to hope, to smile and to be positive. To choose to see the blessings in their trials. This is perhaps a gift more wonderful than any prize package.”
Amanda will receive a one night’s stay from Southmoreland Bed & Breakfast on the Plaza, a gondola ride on Brush Creek courtesy of Ambiance on the Water, $100 gift card to get your sweat on at Mojo Cycling Studio, $50 gift card to Parlor: A Beauty Bar, a beautiful mom tea towel from Tammy Smith Designs, and a customized Missouri cutting board from HMK
Sarah grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (Go Cats!), she moved to Minnesota where she met her husband, Shea. Realizing how much she hated snow in May, she convinced him to move to Kansas City in 2010. Together they have lived in Midtown, Waldo, the Plaza, and now Overland Park. Sarah is mom to 10-year-old, Henry, 7-year-old Clark and 5-year-old Lucy. She has her master’s in urban administration and is passionate about making Kansas City a more equitable and supportive community. In between the crazy, she likes to drink coffee, run, hike, travel as much as possible, and experience all things Kansas City!