BENTON CITY -- Shannon Colson says her family has a new motto: Really good timing for really bad things.
The Benton City woman has much to be grateful for as she celebrates her first Mother's Day today -- including that her 9-month-old son likely saved her life.
"We were both raised Christian, but had not been to church in recent years. Our experiences these past months have definitely brought us back to the church. That we've all survived is more than just luck," said Colson, 32.
The family's trouble started last July when she started suffering chest pains while pregnant with her son, Jake. She had a condition called preeclampsia, which causes extremely high blood pressure, endangering both mom and baby.
"I was only two weeks from my due date so we made the decision to induce labor," she said.
But she reacted badly to the medication.
"They lost my heartbeat and Jake's twice so I had an emergency C-section. What they found was the umbilical cord was bandoliered around his neck, shoulders and waist. There was no way he could ever have been born naturally," she said.
The new family left Kadlec Regional Medical Center a few days later with no hint that Shannon Colson's life would be in danger again soon.
Three weeks after Jake was born, she was plagued by stabbing headaches.
"I did what everyone does, I went to the internet. And yes, brain tumor was one of the possibilities. But I didn't think it would happen to me," she said.
A few days later, the Colsons went to dinner. She noticed the left side of her face and arm weren't normal but resisted going to the hospital. The next morning she noticed she had no peripheral vision in her left eye.
Still, she didn't want to go to the hospital, but her husband, James, told her they were going to Home Depot and he diverted to Kadlec.
"A CAT scan showed I had a tumor larger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball. Dr. (Brian) O'Grady said I needed surgery, immediately," Shannon Colson said.
The noncancerous meningioma tumor was growing inside her skull, pressing against her brain.
"They're normally extremely slow growing. People can live for years with one without any symptoms," she said she was told.
O'Grady, one of a team of neurosurgeons at Kadlec, removed the tumor in a six-hour surgery Aug. 27.
The next day, she was up, walking the halls, and three days later went home.
She learned her type of tumor is more common in women because it feeds on estrogen. And her tumor had blossomed quickly because of her pregnancy and the hormones flooding her system.
"Dr. O'Grady told me Jake saved my life. That with most people who have these tumors the first indication is when their family finds them dead on the floor. Jake's the angel who saved my life," she said.
Life in the Colson household settled into a routine, and her mother, Jo-Ann Neely, moved in to help.
But the calm was shattered two weeks later when Jack became violently ill. The infant was vomiting every time he was fed. They tried everything. They changed his formula and took him in for tests.
"It was projectile vomiting and there was blood in it because his throat was so raw," Shannon Colson said. "He was steadily declining, literally starving to death."
"Our pediatrician arranged for Jake to be airlifted to (Sacred Heart) Children's Hospital in Spokane," she said. "That was Sept. 21."
What followed were 10 days of tests before the baby was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis -- a condition that prevented food from moving from his stomach to his small intestine to be digested.
At 6 weeks of age, Jake needed surgery to survive.
"It was sad to see my baby with tubes and IVs, but a relief to have something to put a name to and a fix," Shannon Colson said.
Three hours after surgery, Jake was drinking a bottle and keeping it down. A month later, he had gained seven pounds. Now he's a robust 25 pounds and the size of an 18-month-old.
The Colsons thought their worries were behind them. Shannon returned Dec. 1 to her job as a graphic designer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
But a few weeks later, James Colson lost his job and turned full-time to taking care of the family's cows, horses, goats, pigs and chickens.
"The upside is I've been able to spend a lot of time with Jake," he said.
Then in February, James Colson was driving when he hit an icy patch near their home in Badger Canyon, rolling his diesel pickup three times.
"The paramedics told me they thought they would be pulling a dead body out of the truck it was so mangled," James Colson said.
And though he's still nursing a sore neck, he escaped any major injuries.
Dick Sanders, pastor at the Cathedral of Joy in Richland, has known Shannon and her parents Jo-Ann and Michael Neeley of Richland for many years.
"Things just happened to them bang, bang, bang, but they rebounded, recovered and have a great spirit about everything. It's marvelous to observe how they've dealt with all the negative things this last year. If their faith ever faltered it sure did not show," he said.
"They're a joy to go visit because their home is so open. You go to encourage them and they end up encouraging you," Sanders said.
"After all we've gone through it would be easy to sit and think, woe is me," said Shannon Colson. "But that's where our faith comes in. We've been very, very, very blessed, and we know it. That's what we want others to know. That they too, can make it through what life brings."