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St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign ensures that families find help when they need it most

Susan and Patricia Barnes

Susan and Patricia Barnes


Even though CVS/pharmacy employee Patricia Barnes spends her days surrounded by medicine, none of it offered hope when her daughter, Susan, was found to have cancer. Then St. Jude Children's Research Hospital threw the desperate family a lifeline.

When Susan was 17, Patricia was a CVS assistant manager. Her reason for working was to ensure that no matter what career path Susan decided to take, money would be there for her education.

But then something unexpected happened.

When Susan lay in bed at night, she had a catch in her lungs; drawing breath required willpower. The symptom seemed the aftermath of a particularly bad chest cold, but lingered.
"It got to the point where she was coughing blood," remembers Patricia.

The local doctor had no answers, and Patricia was beside herself. Without a diagnosis, how could they fight the problem?

Finally, an X-ray revealed a tumor covering 40 percent of Susan's chest, but local doctors still weren't sure of the diagnosis. A family friend in Florida, Gail Wynn, had heard of St. Jude and urged Patricia to obtain a physician's referral as soon as possible.

"By the time we got to St. Jude, she was breathing like Darth Vader," Patricia says. Susan had Hodgkin disease. "Her tumor was so big it pressed against everything, and it was as thick as cement."

At St. Jude, doctors couldn't risk removing the tumor surgically because of its close proximity to Susan's heart. They started Susan on chemotherapy. Once she recovered, they inserted a shunt to drain the fluids around her heart and began radiation therapy.

"The other doctors scared her to death. They didn't have any hope," Patricia says. "It was a total difference at St. Jude. They had all the hope in the world. It was like night and day."

Their CVS family allowed Patricia the time off to care for Susan and sent money so the family could have a fun outing together.

At 23, Susan has been cancer free for five years now.

This holiday season, CVS employees in Patricia's hometown will invite their checkout customers to contribute to a special fundraising campaign for St. Jude called Thanks and Giving.

They'll tell what they've learned about St. Jude—its groundbreaking research and survival rates, the fact that no child is ever turned away based on a family's ability to pay—and then they'll point out their personal incentive to support the hospital.

"See the woman behind the pharmacy counter?" they'll ask. "That's Patricia Barnes, and she almost lost her daughter, Susan, six years ago. Because of St. Jude, Susan is alive today."

Then they'll ask their customers for a donation to St. Jude—whatever they can afford is more than fine. And the good people will open their pocketbooks and give, just like they did six years ago when Patricia needed them most.

You can help children such as Susan by making a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital today.

November 2007