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Tayde came to St. Jude from Mexico when she was 7 years old.
She is a long-term cancer survivor.
Tayde met Danny Thomas very soon after she arrived to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to be treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She will always remember it. The year was 1987, and Tayde was 7 years old. Her mother recognized Danny in the hallway and explained to Tayde that this was the man who had founded the hospital, and that he was famous.
Danny tried talking to the little girl, but Tayde didn’t understand. She and her mother, who were from Mexico, spoke only Spanish, so a nurse at the hospital translated. Danny asked Tayde what type of cancer she had and why she was there at St. Jude. Tayde remembers that he wore large eyeglasses, the style of the time. He also wore jeans and a checked shirt. He picked her up and held her in his lap, and she remembers that he stroked her hair. Soon after, she lost her hair to chemotherapy. To Tayde, Danny didn’t seem like a famous person. He seemed, instead, more like a warm and loving grandfather. In his presence, she was not afraid.
Tayde’s battle against cancer was a long one that lasted many years. She endured two relapses and three full chemotherapy treatments under the care of St. Jude, but she has been cancer free for several years now. Her desire to give back to St. Jude is so strong that she began working for its fundraising organization in 2004. This past summer, she got married.
Tayde’s moment with Danny was a quiet one, and no photos were taken. Still, her memories of the meeting are vivid. Her appreciation of him has grown down through the years. As a child, she realized how kind he was, how comforting. As an adult, she understands that in founding St. Jude, Danny Thomas enabled children like her to grow into adulthood.
“I know that I am alive today because it was Danny’s dream,” says Tayde.
Danny passed away in 1991, only four years after their meeting, and Tayde feels blessed to have known him. Sometimes she wishes she could talk with Danny again. She knows what she would say.
“Thank you, Danny Thomas, for my life and for giving me the opportunity to make my dreams come true.”