It is so sad to say, but cancer has affected every single one of us in some way, shape, or form, whether you know someone who has battled cancer, or whether you have had that battle yourself.
I have, unfortunately, known many people to have that battle, but the one that affected me the most was my dad. In July of 1995 he was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, which is a very aggressive form of Leukemia and, more often than not, a death sentence. After 13 months of a courageous battle, my dad succumbed to AML in August of 1996. He was only 46 years old.
I took my first trip to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis in January of 1997, only five months after my dad passed away. My first thought at seeing the children at St. Jude was just how unfair it all was. My dad was 46 when he died, which is young, but I can honestly say that my dad had 45 phenomenal years. I was looking at children- in same cases infants- who were also diagnosed with Leukemia, and it just wasn't fair. Some of those kids didn't even have one good year, let alone 45.
I know how devastating it was for me to hear that my dad had cancer... but can you imagine what it must feel like to be a parent and hear that your child has cancer? I HATE the fact that we have to have a place like St. Jude because I hate the fact that cancer exists, but since cancer is not yet at a 100% cure rate, THANK GOD WE HAVE ST. JUDE!
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, a parent shouldn't have to worry about where they'll get money for treatment or worry about bills. And thanks to St. Jude, those worries are gone. No family ever sees a bill from St. Jude... not from treatment, travel, food, housing... it is all covered so that the family can focus on helping their child live. In addition, St. Jude remembers that these are children, so there are things throughout the hospital that are specifically for kids... there is even a room where no "grown-ups" are allowed. The kids who are immobile don't have wheelchairs; they have red wagons. There are playrooms. There are chefs to fix the kids whatever they want... and if the chef can't fix it, St. Jude will find a way to get it. St. Jude hosts proms and other events that kids would attend if they were at home. St. Jude has thought of everything and has absolutely mastered taking care of kids and letting the kids BE kids.
When St. Jude opened in 1962, the childhood cancer survival rate was 20%. Thanks to the tireless research being done at St. Jude, the survival rate is now more than 80%- which is GREAT! But that means that one in five children will still die, and that is not acceptable. Founder Danny Thomas said "no child should die in the dawn of life" and St. Jude has made it their mission to not stop until no child dies from cancer.
Another wonderful thing about St. Jude is that they don't keep their findings under wraps. Instead, they freely share breakthroughs, which means scientists and doctors worldwide can save children, even if that child is not a St. Jude Patient! St. Jude truly is saving lives around the globe.
But with everything- the research, the treatments, the assuring no family ever sees a bill- comes great expense. It costs St. Jude well over a million dollars EVERY DAY to operate the way they do, and that is why donations are so important. You'll hear the plea to become a "Partner In Hope." For just $19 a month, your money goes to everything I just mentioned and above all, your money helps kids live. Imagine if everyone reading this right now, if everyone that heard a radiothon on the radio or saw a St. Jude TV commercial... imagine if all of us pledged just $19 a month, we could all be a part of helping St. Jude stop childhood cancer and other catastrophic illnessed and together we could SAVE LIVES.
A lot of people will be asking you for help and donations this time of year, but there is no organization more worthy of your hard-earned dollars than St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Please consider becoming at Partner In Hope by calling 1-800-795-1800 or clicking here.