A while back, I had the privilege of visiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. I was invited to join an amazing group of bloggers to visit St. Jude and learn more about how they are leading the way the world understands, treats, and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Honestly, while I knew this trip would be different from any other blog-related travel, I thought I was prepared. As a registered nurse, I briefly worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on the pediatric oncology inpatient floor and have been a longtime supporter of childhood cancer research.
I always thought I knew of the work being done at St. Jude, but I didn’t fully realize the efforts being made on a daily basis until I had this opportunity to see it first hand. Listening to physicians, nurses, and former patients, we were given insight into what really makes St. Jude so special. It’s the people that carry forward the vision of founder Danny Thomas. You can feel their passion and see their commitment. The commitment to that vision means that no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.
As a healthcare professional, it is a challenging time, and we often feel the struggle between the bottom line and providing compassionate patient care. That’s what makes it all the more astounding that the majority of St. Jude’s funding comes from individual contributions. Individuals like me, like you, like the sweet neighbor down the street, like the uncle with a heart of gold that will give $5 on a fixed income. No donation is ever too small because every penny counts towards improving the lives of these children.
Here are some facts and experiences that I’m honored to share:
- Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened more than 50 years ago. There are 24 satellite hospitals, from El Salvador to Asia.
- 365 days a year, doctors and scientists are working to find cures and improved treatments.
- St. Jude is a place where families are told “it’s on us”. There is a school program on campus, and efforts are made to collaborate with physicians, psychologists, nutritionists, and child/life specialists.
- St. Jude was the 2017 Health Non-Profit Brand Of The Year, according to Harris Poll. This was the forth year in a row and holds 31,000 fundraising activities a year.
It was a privilege to experience a tour of St. Jude with this crew and have the opportunity to listen to such intimate stories that raised our hopes, made us smile, gave us inspiration, and allowed us the chance to share our tears.
Among the many moments that reached into my heart as a parent, one that stands out for me is learning about the work that is done to build patient legacy by preserving special memories. Amy Love is a music therapist at St. Jude that found a way to capture a patient’s heartbeat and preserve it into song. It was difficult to grasp the concept, but you’ll see what I mean in the video below when she starts singing. This is a heads up that it’s a very emotional video to watch.
“During ultrasounds, the heartbeat is the first sound that parents hear in relation to their child. It is a representation of life and it is the rhythm that we carry within each of us.” – Amy Love, Music Therapist
Through unimaginable challenges within the walls of St. Jude, the sense that overwhelmed me during my visit was the dedication that I could see and feel. It’s in the incredibly delicious food at the cafe, in the grateful workers in the gift shop, in the nurses on the floor, the physicians and researchers. Little efforts all contribute and make a difference.
This December, I’ll be participating in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend as a St. Jude Hero. I’m running for kids who might be too sick to run today, but who could one day be running alongside me because the money I raised helped find a cure for childhood cancer. So, I’m asking to dig deep, my friends, and please consider making a tax-deductible donation. Any amount is truly appreciated. If you’re inclined, any donations are appreciated: http://heroes.stjude.org/lindascruggs
Danny Thomas said, “no child should die in the dawn of life.”
Thank you to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for inviting me to be a St. Jude Blog Ambassador. I was hosted to visit and tour St. Jude, and was provided accommodations, transportation, and meals. I consider it an honor to be a part of St. Jude’s mission as a mom and a nurse.