St. Jude pioneered a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to treat childhood cancers.
On Average, 5,400 active patients visit the hospital each year, most of whom are treated on an outpatient basis.
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.
St. Jude has increased the survival rate of the most common form of childhood cancer, ALL, from 4 percent when the hospital opened to 85 percent today.
Diagnosis: Aidan was found to suffer from pilocytic astrocytoma in December 2010
Aidan is a blur of motion. One moment he’s standing at the giant chalkboard in his playroom, drawing circles and squares with chalk. The next minute he’s crouched down in front of his train table, lining up train cars. And then he’s out the backdoor with his older brother, racing toward the swing set.
Aidan’s parents delight in their youngest son’s zest for life. For a while, they worried about what his future might hold.
In early 2010, Aidan seemed to stop developing as quickly as his siblings. His parents had difficulty understanding him and his balance was off. That June, Aidan was found to suffer from neurofibromatosis, a disorder that causes tumors to grow on the nerves.
Aidan’s parents barely had time to process that news when, six months later, scans revealed a tumor growing in Aidan’s right optic nerve. He was immediately sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where further tests revealed a second tumor in Aidan’s left optic nerve. The tumors were identified as pilocytic astrocytomas.
At St. Jude, Aidan underwent chemotherapy for 18 months. Because of the location of the tumors, they are inoperable. Doctors know they will begin to grow eventually, and when they do, Aidan will again undergo chemotherapy. “His cancer will never go into remission,” said Aidan’s mother. “He’ll have chemotherapy on and off for the rest of his life.”
Despite this daunting outlook, Aidan’s family has bright hopes for his future. “He’s a happy child, he’s in school and doing well,” said Aidan’s mom. “With everything he’s been through, he’s taught us to just be happy every day.”
Aidan’s parents are grateful for the people who help support St. Jude. “We never have to worry about a bill. When you have a child who is going to have a lifetime of treatment, this means so much,” Aidan’s mom said.
Aidan returns to St. Jude for regular checkups. He loves to see his doctors and nurses, and he especially loves playing with the trains in the playrooms.