Teen uses “pro-choice” to show true courage

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

In most cases teenagers are trying to figure out what’s really going on while stumbling through life mentally confined to their own little world. Every so often you come across a teenager who is older and wiser than their years, and more mature than many adults. This is the exception, because of inexperience and the narrow mindedness that come with being young. We all know what that’s like — we have been there and lived through those carefree and trying years. I bring this up because of the actions of an 18-year-old mother that gave everyone a clear example of selflessness, bravery and remarkable courage. 

Dana Scatton was 17 and seven months pregnant when she was told she had an inoperable brain tumor. Doctors explained her situation was dire, and only immediate radiation treatments would extend, or possibly save, her life. But there was a choice to be made. If she chose to  begin treatments it would lead to irreparable harm, including possible death, for her unborn daughter. This brave teenager never thought twice and used her right to choose to make the right choice of a true mother. She made it clear that she would not do anything that could cause harm to her child. Even as doctors begged her to reconsider, Scatton would not relent. Scatton’s mother said, “She faced the greatest fear of all, death, and smiled back with a grin only God can instill.”  

In January she gave birth to a healthy baby girl just days after she turned 18. Sadly, after enjoying motherhood for three short months Scatton passed away last week as a result of her brain tumor. This teenager came to a crossroads where she had to make a choice, and it was either her life or her baby’s life. She never hesitated in making the decision to protect her baby at any cost — even the ultimate cost. This young woman was only 17, but her courage and actions were that of a true mother and an extraordinary person.  

As I was reading the article about this brave young woman, I was overcome with memories of my best friend when I was younger. He was cut from the same heavenly mold as Scatton. Nathan Russell was far different from any teenager I’ve ever known. He was as morally sound, selfless, loyal and caring — and more humble than any person I’ve ever met. He was also one of the nicest human beings I have ever encountered. Much of the credit for those traits, as well as his good manners and respectfulness, can be attributed to his parents Julie and Rodney. Just ask anyone that knew, or ever met, him there was no doubt they raised the finest of young men. 

Just like Scatton, there was something special about Nathan. He genuinely just loved life — and everyone in it. Just being around him had this uplifting effect that made your day better, and made you want to be a better person. He was a natural born leader that led by example and possessed distinct qualities that only come from God above. Every mother says that their son is “special,” but in Nathan’s case that statement was never more true. Throughout the 22 years since he was called back to Heaven, I have known people that possibly compare to him, but I have never met a better individual than James Nathan Russell.

He and Scatton were both called home to God before they escaped their teenage years, and had the opportunity to figure out what this life is actually all about. There’s no way life is better without either of them, but maybe we just don’t understand. Former Scott County Times Publisher Sid Salter wrote, “Until I am granted a higher wisdom, I won’t understand why Nathan died. But I’ll thank God every day for the way Nathan lived — and for letting this boy’s path cross mine.” 

It took time for me, but I have come to understand — the real blessings in life are individuals like Nathan and Scatton. Knowing them was a privilege bestowed upon us by God Himself. They touch the lives of everyone with whom they cross paths. When our life is touched by a Godsend it hurts terribly when they’re precious time here with us is up. But we have to cherish the time we had and the memories we made.

In memory of #20 James Nathan Russell - Oct. 3, 1978 - Oct. 11, 1996 – Until we meet again my brother.