About St. Jude

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay.


Patient Stories

Benjamin: Age 8 - Quad Cities

On September 18, 1999, just one month prior to his 3rd birthday, Benjamin Carlsten, our fun loving, irresistible, high-energy boy, was diagnosed with ...

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... acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). His face had become swollen (from what we believed to be allergies) and he complained of aching feet. He was a hard kid to keep down, but became increasingly "tired". A series of blood tests concluded that he had leukemia. Those are very hard words to hear...especially about your own son. Ben was immediately flown to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. There, additional tests were run and it was determined that cancer was present in his spinal fluid and other areas, thus classifying him as a "high risk" case. For the next nine weeks, he lived between St. Jude's and the Ronald McDonald House, as he underwent intense chemotherapy.

Prior to being diagnosed, Ben was the most energetic, outgoing child. During treatment, his personality would swing from ecstatic to depressed in a matter of minutes. While undergoing the induction phase of his treatment (first nine weeks), he became very lethargic, unable to walk, and would stand barely long enough to get his clothes on before collapsing. This was a very difficult thing to see.

His leukemia went into remission and Ben was allowed to return home by the end of November 1999. For the next two years, he made the trip to Memphis for high dose chemotherapy every eight weeks and received weekly treatments at the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate in Peoria, IL. In December 2000, after a positive response to the treatment. Ben's condition was upgraded and he no longer followed the "high risk" protocol. Ben still receives weekly treatments at St. Jude's in Peoria, but only has to make the trip to Memphis every six months now.

Other than a few hospitalizations due to infections and a bout with Chicken Pox, everything has gone according to plan. It has now been 2-1/2 years since his diagnosis and Ben gets stronger and stronger everyday. He is very strong-willed and everyone is amazed to see how well he handles everything. He participated in tee ball for the first time this past year and loved it. He loves being active, especially in sports...if there's a ball to be thrown, he wants in.

There is not a day that goes by that we do not thank St. Jude for saving Ben's life. It has not been an easy couple of years, but we cannot say enough about the doctors, nurses and staff at St. Jude's for their support and all they do to make this hardship a little bit easier...not only for Ben, but also for our entire family. We know that without them, Ben would no longer be with us.

It is due to the dedication of these doctors and nurses, and of the monetary support of the people who donate to St. Jude's, survival rates have dramatically improved. (ALL alone has improved from 4% in 1962 to approximately 80% presently.) It is because of this dedication that we, in turn, do all that we can to assist St. Jude.



Kyle: Age 10 - Canton

Kyle was 2 1/2 years old when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia on September 26, 1997. The week before it was confirmed I thought he just had a ...

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... virus, but I had gotten a little concerned about the bruises I was finding all over his arms and legs. I took him into the Doctors office and she wanted to admit him into the hospital for observation because she had heard a heart murmur. Within a couple of hours of being admitted and the nurses drawing his blood...Dr. Savings from the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate was in our room telling me she was 90% sure Kyle had Leukemia. I was in total disbelief. You ask yourself why and how can this happen to your child. Our world was changing and we didn't know what to expect, but I was determined to do whatever I could to help Kyle. I have to tell you at that point I was ready for the battle, because I had just lost my husband in a line of duty accident nineteen days prior to Kyle being diagnosed. I couldn't give up hope even after what our family had already been through. They wasted no time and we were on a plane to Memphis by 8pm the same night.

Kyle spent nine weeks in Memphis going through some very intense chemotherapy. He was in remission when we got to go home at Thanksgiving and we had so much to be thankful for. Things seemed to be going great and Kyle was receiving his chemo once a week like he was supposed to. We had to go down to Memphis for a regular six month check up in October, 1999 where he was to have a spinal and bone marrow aspiration. We only had six more months left of chemo and his test results of the spinal showed leukemia cells in the fluid. I was devastated by the news. He looked so healthy on the outside. Kyle had seen me crying and wanted to know why. I told him I was sad because he had to have more medicine, and he just looked at me and said, "It's only more medicine, mom." I couldn't believe what I was hearing from a four year old. He has been such an inspiration to me these past five years. St. Jude kept our hopes alive for Kyle by aggressively attacking the leukemia with radiation and additional chemotherapy. He has been off treatment for a year and a half now, and is a very happy, lively, and healthy 7 year old in remission of his leukemia.

St. Jude has given Kyle his childhood back and you can not put a price on that. I have so much to be thankful for and I want to do all I can to make sure that other St. Jude parents can be as fortunate as I am to have a healthy child once again. My way of giving back is by participating in the Canton to Peoria St. Jude Run. I know I will never be able to repay what St. Jude has done for us, but I'm going to put forth my best effort just as they did for Kyle.



Madison: Age 6 - Quad Cities

Our daughter Madison was born on August 14, 1998. A beautiful 7 ½ pound baby girl. Our world shattered around us when just three days later a huge ...

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... tumor was discovered in her abdomen and spinal canal. Early the next morning, Madison was transported to St. Francis in Peoria and it was there that we first heard the words "St. Jude".

Madison underwent surgery on her seventh day of life to determine what kind of tumor she was born with. It turned out to be Neuroblastoma, cancer of the central nervous system. Madison's chances of being born with this type of cancer were 8 in one million! Following the surgery, the St. Jude doctors met with us and described in detail a course of treatment and shared with us that survival rates for Madison's cancer were better than 95 percent. We had a plan, we had hope, and we had wonderful doctors. There was no doubt that she would be receiving the most up to date treatment developed to eradicate her cancer.

On her eighth day of life, Madison received her first round of chemotherapy. Her battle had begun and she was still just a precious newborn. She received a total of 8 rounds of chemotherapy over a 5 month period. And not a day went by that we didn't pray.

Madison's tumor did not shrink the way the doctors had hope in response to the chemo. Her final MRI prior to surgery stated that 65% of her tumor remained, still in her abdomen and scarier yet, in her spinal canal. We entered surgery on March 17, 1999 with a plan that the surgeons would remove as much of the tumor as they could without causing further neurological damage to Madison.

That's when the miracle happened! The surgeons came out of the operating room to tell us that there wasn't any tumor there! Madison's St. Jude doctors chalked it up to "delayed effects of the chemotherapy". We feel blest to have experienced the power of St. Jude and the power of prayer.

Madison is now a happy, healthy and active three-year-old. She attends Preschool four days a week and keeps up with the rest of them. Her favorite past times include playing with Barbie's, swinging on her swingset, singing, dressing up at her vanity, reading books, and loving up her baby brother Logan.

Madison continues to be followed closely by St. Jude with routine MRI's and clinic visits every three months. She will forever be known as "baby Madison" by the staff at St. Jude Midwest Affiliate. We thank God everyday for leading us to St. Jude and that is why we spear headed the Quad Cities to Peoria St. Jude Run. We feel that maybe in this way we can give back a little to the people who granted us the greatest gift in the world: our daughter's life!



Wesley: Age 10 - Macomb

We live in Macomb, Illinois. Our Son, Wesley, was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) October 1, 1997. He was 4 years old. We left the ...

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... following day for St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee (approximately 500 miles from home). Leaving our 8 year-old daughter, Lauren, with grandparents.

Wesley went through 2½ years of chemotherapy. He finished treatments April 27, 2000. Wesley is 8½ years old today. He is a very active boy. He loves sports! He plays basketball, baseball and enjoys swimming. Thanks to St. Jude, our son is alive and doing well. Our family will always be grateful for the care we received at St. Jude.

Larry, Janet, Lauren & Wesley


Stories provided by St. Jude Runs ( www.stjuderuns.org).