Meet Our Patients
They come from communities everywhere, and they need your help. That’s because no family pays St. Jude for anything. Ever. You can help continue our mission to save the lives of children with cancer and other deadly diseases.
Read their stories above and learn about their courage and determination.
6 years old
Bailey is a loving, friendly little girl. She’s also a natural performer. On this particular day, Bailey is orchestrating a show for her family. She’s made the tickets, distributed them to her family members and puts up signs advertising the show. Now, it’s time to perform. With a bright smile, Bailey directs her audience to their seats and steps onto her makeshift stage – a corner of the living room. Then with a flourish, Bailey begins to sing a song she’s made up.
In July 2012, an ultrasound revealed a mass on one of Bailey’s kidneys. It was identified as a Wilms tumor, which is a solid tumor of the kidney. Her family traveled to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for her treatment and care, where she is being treated on a COG protocol. Bailey’s parents chose St. Jude because of the surgical expertise found on staff. The survival rate for Wilms tumor is now 90 percent, up from 50 percent when the hospital first opened in 1962.
At St. Jude, further scans revealed the cancer had spread to both of Bailey’s kidneys and her lungs. Bailey underwent surgery to remove the tumor, during which her left kidney was removed, as well as portion of her right kidney. Her continuing treatment, which is scheduled to last 28 weeks, includes chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Shortly after arriving at St. Jude, Bailey became friends with another young Wilms tumor patient, Mae. The girls have been inseparable ever since. They go to kindergarten together and share the same care team. When Mae was recently hospitalized, Bailey brought her a basket of goodies to cheer her up. And when Bailey lost her hair due to treatment, it was easier on her because Mae had already lost hers. The girls love animals and sneaking outside together to play in the dirt.
Despite Bailey’s sometimes difficult treatment, she is thriving. She’s inquisitive, always wanting to know about other kids at the hospital. And her imagination is nonstop.
Bailey has finished her performance to a rousing round of applause. She smiles widely and curtsies. “Bailey could put on a show about anything,” said her mother, Ashley. “And we’ll be there, watching and cheering her on.”
6 years old
Brittany and Walter’s little girl is named Camryn, but people call her “Diva.” She loves to dance and sing. But when Camryn was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, her parents worried their energetic child, so full of life, might never feel good again.
On January 28, 2011, Camryn woke up screaming and clutched her side. At the hospital, Camryn was found to be suffering from Wilms tumor, a cancer of the kidneys, and her family was quickly referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Camryn’s right kidney had several tumors and her left kidney had one large tumor, and the little girl was in a great deal of pain.
At St. Jude, Camryn received chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. In addition to fighting the cancer, our doctors kept Camryn’s kidneys functioning so she wouldn’t need kidney dialysis.
Camryn was scared in the beginning, but St. Jude helped with that too.
“Every time I tried to explain cancer to Camryn, I was about to cry,” remembers Brittany. “So the child life specialist came in, and she explained everything to her so that she could understand it. She didn’t give her too much information, but she gave her enough.”
When people asked Camryn why she didn’t have hair, she told them that it was because of the medicine that “gets the bad stuff out of my belly.”
Camryn’s mother is a 5th grade teacher, and her father is a 4-H instructor getting his master’s in agriculture education. They have good insurance, but the family feels relieved that whatever insurance doesn’t cover, St. Jude will.
“I’ve heard so many times that people have had to declare bankruptcy or lost their homes when a family member gets sick, but St. Jude takes care of its families,” says Brittany.
These days, Camryn is back to her old self again. She loves making new friends at the hospital and singing songs by her favorite artist, Justin Bieber.
7 years old
Horse-drawn carriages of all shapes and sizes line up outside a grand old hotel. There are elaborate ones trimmed in gold and ones with plush, velvet cushions on its seats. There is another one shaped like Cinderella’s carriage in the fairy tale. Like most little girls, this is the one Brooke is drawn to. She takes her sisters’ hands and hurries toward the carriage, giggling as they climb in for a ride.
Brooke’s personality is larger than life. She’s a vivacious, outgoing girl. Nothing slows her down or dampens her spirit, not even treatment for a rare, non-cancerous brain tumor called craniopharyngioma.
When Brooke was 2 years old, she stopped growing. Her parents, Dolf and Laila, took her to the doctor, who suggested Brooke was just on the small side. But when Brooke’s younger sister bypassed her in height by several inches, her parents grew concerned. The family’s doctor referred Brooke to an endocrinologist, and she started having regular blood work done in hopes they could get to the bottom of her growth issues.
In February 2010, when blood work showed abnormalities, Brooke was sent for an MRI. The results revealed she had a craniopharyngioma. This type of tumor generally occurs just above the pituitary gland and can cause serious hormonal, visual and neurological problems. At the local children’s hospital, the neurosurgeon told Dolf and Laila that if she were his child, he’d want her at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Dolf and Laila visited St. Jude and realized immediately it was the place Brooke needed to be. “We knew as soon as we saw the facilities and resources at St. Jude, and the compassion and expertise,” said Dolf. When they returned home to California, they asked their doctor for a referral.
At St. Jude, Brooke’s treatment included seven weeks of radiation. The hospital’s use of three-dimensional imaging allowed radiation therapy to be pinpointed directly on the tumor while sparing the surrounding healthy brain tissue.
Brooke responded well to treatment, and now returns to St. Jude for regular checkups. Dolf and Laila are thrilled with the treatment and care Brooke has received at St. Jude, where no family ever pays St. Jude for anything. “They really look at the whole person and the whole family,” said Dolf. “Brooke has received top-notch care.”
The horse-drawn carriage, with Brooke and her sisters, pulls slowly from the curb. From this perch, Brooke feels like a princess. She gives a little wave, and off she goes.
9 years old
Marion has picked the perfect hiding spot from his brothers and sisters. They are in their neighborhood park playing hide and seek. There’s a place where the tree meets the hill and forms a perfect cubbyhole. Marion sits inside it, protected. He waits and smiles, knowing they’ll come for him soon. More than anything, he loves being here in the park with his family.
Not too long ago, Marion’s family worried they were losing the little boy to cancer.
In January 2011, Marion began to experience small seizures, and his mother, Melissa, took him to the local children’s hospital. She wondered if the doctors would see what she saw, so she actually felt somewhat relieved when right there in the hospital, he had another tremor. He was immediately taken back for a CT scan, which revealed a mass on Marion’s brain called an anaplastic astrocytoma. He underwent surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, but some of it remained. Marion was then referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
At St. Jude, Marion underwent 36 rounds of radiation and a full year of chemotherapy. He also underwent physical and occupational therapies to help him regain his motor skills. St. Jude supported Marion’s family throughout this scary time, and the family has never received a bill from St. Jude for his medical care. Marion is now finished with treatment and returns to St. Jude every three months for scans. His tumor is stable.
Marion is an outgoing boy who loves assigning nicknames to new friends. His mom says he can light up a room with his personality. Marion likes playing video games and watching football, especially the New England Patriots. But most of all, he enjoys spending time with his brothers and sisters.
Marion sits in the park. He has a hard time keeping from giggling as he thinks about the moment he’ll bust out and show everyone his hiding spot. He’s going to count 60 seconds, one minute, and if his brothers and sisters don’t find him by then, he’s coming out. Because the truth is, he wants to be found.
5 years old
acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Estevan isn’t afraid to get a little dirty. He loves his sandbox. The whole world is his playground. At the end of each day, he’s exhausted and happy.
Behind his smile and sweet laugh, nobody can tell he is a brave cancer survivor.
In late 2011, Estevan’s mom, Teresa received a call at work. A routine checkup revealed he little boy had incredibly low hemoglobin levels. Soon, Estevan was transferred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, where doctors learned he suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of cancer in children.
Teresa was stunned. “Cancer hadn’t even crossed my mind as a possibility,” she said.
At St. Jude, Teresa learned St. Jude would never send the family a bill. The hospital provided housing and meals, so she could focus completely on her son’s medical care. Estevan began a two-and-a-half year chemotherapy plan, which quickly drove his cancer into remission. The family has returned home, and they receive treatment from their local St. Jude clinic.
In many ways, Estevan is back to normal. It’s Teresa who feels different.
“This experience has changed my life,” said Teresa. “I’m more aware of the children around me. I notice if they are tired and the way the act, and I pay attention to how they look physically. Because the truth is, you never know.”
Estevan lives to play. He plays so hard sometimes that, by the end of the day, he can barely keep his eyes open. His mother tucks him into bed and snuggles with him or reads him a book. He looks at his ceiling and nestles under the covers. This is what he missed most when he was away.
When Estevan falls asleep, he looks so peaceful. His mom stares at her little boy with wonder. She wants him to have the very best dreams.
6 years old
atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor
Arianna’s father, Enrique, serves in the Navy, and the family loves military life. In 2009, they were newly stationed in Japan. Little Arianna, who was then just 2 years old, was adjusting nicely. She was an adventurous eater who soaked up the language like a sponge. Her parents felt thankful that not only was she adjusting to this new culture, she was actually thriving.
But soon after her third birthday in 2009, Arianna had a seizure, and a CT scan revealed a mass in her cerebellum. Suddenly, the distance from home and the language barrier seemed way too much to bear. Enrique and his wife, Leticia, arranged to fly with their daughter to the United States to find answers.
Arianna underwent brain surgery in Texas, and the doctor told the devastated family the cancer, an atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor, had metastasized. It had attached to her spine and spread to her ear canal. She would go deaf soon, they warned. He put Arianna’s survival odds at a bleak 10 to 20 percent.
But Leticia and Enrique would not give up. The family researched treatment options. They learned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the head of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and obtained a referral. “From the moment we walked through the doors of St Jude, there was an overwhelming sense of comfort,” says Leticia.
St. Jude did its own biopsy and scans of Arianna. Her medical team soon discovered her cancer had not metastasized after all. Arianna received a second brain surgery to completely remove the tumor. She underwent 31 radiation treatments and four rounds of chemotherapy. The cancer disappeared.
For 15 months, Arianna’s family enjoyed a life of relative normalcy, but in July 2011, the family was shattered to learn Arianna’s cancer had come back. Recently, Arianna began a new drug treatment at St. Jude. The tumor has drastically reduced in size. Arianna’s results have been so encouraging, in fact, that her doctors are taking what they’ve learned from Arianna and using it to help other children by rewriting their existing treatment protocol.
Arianna celebrated her sixth birthday with a Minnie Mouse party. Her parents said it was the biggest Minnie Mouse party the world has ever seen.
10 years old
acute myeloid leukemia
On August 16, 2012, Brennan walked on set and took a seat next to his co-star Robin Williams. The two were in the town of San Rafael, just north of San Francisco, to shoot a commercial for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The commercial script had to do with Brennan’s cancer treatment for acute myeloid leukemia and the groundbreaking work being done at St. Jude. It also focused on Brennan’s love of golf. Brennan played golf even while he was sick; it’s what kept him going.
Robin Williams may have been the star, but Brennan was the survivor.
On many occasions over the past three years, Brennan has been on the brink of death. He has undergone four bone marrow transplants – three of them provided by St. Jude. Most hospitals stop if the first transplant fails, but St. Jude never gave up on Brennan. In a place accustomed to medical miracles, Brennan still stands out.
In the darkest days of Brennan’s treatment, it was golf that kept him going. When he wasn’t too sick to do so, he played. Brennan had been a talented golfer from the time he could grip a club. “I believe I can do something on the golf course, and I just do it,” Brennan says.
In August 2011, Brennan was finally well enough to leave St. Jude and return with his family back home to Georgia, this time for good.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Brennan.
In many ways, the intervening months have been a happy time for his family. In April 2012, Brennan attended his very first slumber party. Also in April, he returned to school for the first time. His fellow students lined the halls to welcome him.
But there have been hard times too. Brennan has overcome painful complications and endured three significant hospital stays.
On the commercial shoot set in California, in a world where people fawn over movie stars, it was Robin Williams who paid deference to a 10 year old, inquiring after Brennan’s comfort, making sure all the lights and cameras weren’t somehow all too much for him. The fact Williams was a star seemed secondary to the fact he was a dad.
Brennan got his lines just right. He laughed at Williams. His smile lit up the room. Brennan looked good. He looked strong.
4 years old
Ingram sits and stacks his blocks, one atop the other. He builds what looks like a fort. It’s tall and impressive, but he’s not finished yet. Part of the fun is destroying what he’s built. With a swipe of his hand, his work is demolished, and the entire floor is messy with blocks. Ingram beams. His dad has given all three children nicknames. The little boy’s nickname is Ingram the Conqueror. It’s easy to see why.
The name “Conqueror” now has new meaning for the family because Ingram is fighting the battle of his life. The trouble began in March 2012 with a series of terrible headaches that sometimes caused Ingram to vomit. The pediatrician at first thought these were sinus headaches, then wondered if Ingram suffered from migraines. He ordered a CT scan simply as a precautionary measure, to rule out anything more serious. Later that day, he called Ingram’s mom. The doctor told her Ingram had a brain tumor.
“I was listening to his words,” she said, “but didn’t really hear what he was saying.”
Ingram was soon diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, an aggressive brain tumor. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital used advanced diagnostics to determine exactly what treatment Ingram needed. And when no treatment existed to meet his special needs, St. Jude created a therapy just for him. In addition to chemotherapy, Ingram has received radiation therapy targeted directly to his tumor. This treatment preserves his healthy brain tissue while also giving him the best chance for survival.
Today Ingram is doing well as he continues treatment at St. Jude. He adores his two sisters and loves playing soccer and baseball.
Ingram has an indomitable spirit. He will fight his cancer and live a life filled with joy and meaning. Whether he’s playing with his blocks or attending school, Ingram will show the world he’s a conqueror.
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