My Tribute to...
ST. Jude children's Research Hospital
I remember the day clearly. Sitting in my bedroom downstairs, depressed and moody, my dad came running down the stairs to tell us he had just spoke with a top doctor at SJCRH! He said they would like us to do more testing at our local hospital and they would supply us with special boxes to ship our blood samples and a piece of my bone marrow down to them in Tennessee. A few weeks later that same doctor called back inviting us down for a consult and he believed they would be able to help me!!
I cried. When you have no hope, and then something happens to change that, there are no words to explain the feeling except I felt like a gigantic weight was lifted off my heart in that very moment.
The hospital is welcoming, just the right size where you can get around quickly and easily. The colorful walls are painted with fun murals and there are many computers and playrooms for the kids and their siblings to play while waiting for appointments.
There is different housing depending on how long you will be staying for treatment. Try-Delta Place, Ronald McDonald House and Target House are all wonderful places to stay and they each have activities and various charitable organizations supply and dish out meals a few times a week.
And of course no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude so the focus can solely be on taking care of your child. Treatment, medicine, housing and transportation all covered through the generosity of donors all over the world. ALSAC (American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities) is the fundraising and awareness organization of St. Jude and they are responsible for operating and maintaining this hospital. Each year there are over 30,000 in-person events annually, raising close to 2 billion dollars and accounts for about 80% of the hospitals expenses. Amazing.
Besides the awesome parties, celebrity guests and overwhelming generosity, St. Jude is a specialized hospital for children and everywhere you look there are just kids, parents and siblings. I found this comforting in some way. We were all there to get better and it really felt like we were a single group all supporting each other.
So many times I would need to be sick on the shuttle bus and even if you were sick, you weren’t embarrased because everyone had been through it themselves. Almost all of us were bald and had feeding tubes but again it didn’t mater. The staff are exceptional, having seen so much devastation and sadness in their career already, they seemed touched with an empathy only those who work with sick children would ever know.
And lastly, to the nurses and doctors who treated me with kindness and patience I remember you all and thank you. I appreciate your education, your skill and expertise as you took care of me for over two years and saw me through two separate bone marrow transplants. You never gave up on me, so I never gave up on myself. I am glad to call you all my friends and am so happy we have been able to stay in touch throughout the years. Thank you St. Jude for helping me and giving me hope when I had none. Thank you for saving my life.