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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a place where sick kids receive lifesaving treatment for deadly diseases. But it’s also a place where kids receiving treatment experience many of the milestones of childhood, from visits by Santa to kindergarten graduation and, of course, birthdays.
Celebrating birthdays at the hospital is one of the ways St. Jude works as hard at patients’ quality of life as it does at their healing.
A party for Drew
When little Drew was found to have acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at the age of 2, his family’s life was completely uprooted. Treatment for ALL can last up to three years, which, at that time, was longer than Drew had been in the world. His family came to St. Jude from their home state of New York just days before Drew’s third birthday.
“Drew turned 3 during an inpatient stay,” recalled his mom. “The staff at St. Jude was incredible. We took Drew to a playroom, and when we came back, the nurses and assistants had decorated his hospital room with window paint, balloons, and had a present and a cake ready for him.”
When Drew’s baby sister turned 1 a few months later, the staff threw a birthday party for her, too.
A 'Carnival' celebration for Helen
Ten-year-old Helen went from winning a karate competition to being treated for cancer at St. Jude in the span of a month. She too spent a birthday inpatient and received a goodie bag to help her celebrate from Carnival Cruise Lines, Official Celebration Partner of St. Jude. Carnival also makes a donation to St. Jude on behalf of every child who celebrates a birthday at the hospital.
“St. Jude is amazing,” said Helen’s mom. “It’s not just the medical treatment that’s wonderful. It’s the atmosphere; it’s what the kids get here beyond medicine. It’s the sense of normalcy.”
Lillian's (second) best moment at St. Jude
When 7-year-old Lillian’s mom looks back on their time spent inpatient at St. Jude, Lillian’s birthday at the hospital immediately springs to mind. “The best moment had to be on her birthday,” she said. “Well, let me take that back. That would be the second best moment. The best moment was when they said her cancer was gone. The second best moment was her birthday. They had a birthday party for her — that was so awesome. They had a cake and confetti and presents. And all her doctors and nurses — some people I didn’t even know, they just decided to stop in and sing!”
St. Jude is where doctors send their toughest cases because St. Jude has the world’s best survival rates for the most aggressive childhood cancers. Because St. Jude works day and night to make sure sick kids can celebrate more birthdays.
Want to give St. Jude patients the ultimate gift? Dedicate your birthday to their future.