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St. Jude patient Christopher looks forward to a happy future, and so do his mom and stepfather.
Christopher woke up with a start, and ran to urge his mother, Jessica, to get up. It was the special day he, Jessica, and her fiancé, William, had been awaiting, a day that had been postponed for years as Christopher did battle with cancer.
It was Jessica and William’s wedding day. The three of them would finally be a family. And it would happen in the place that had saved Christopher’s life: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Four years ago, when Jessica and William met in Puerto Rico, they felt an immediate connection. But their happiness was interrupted when two months later, Jessica received heart-rending news: Her son Christopher suffered from lymphocytic leukemia, a type of blood cancer. Christopher started treatment in a local hospital that lasted more than three years.
When the treatment came to an end, it looked like everything was going to be okay. Everyone’s thoughts started to turn to a wedding, until the unthinkable happened: Christopher relapsed. This time, the three of them left everything behind and turned to St. Jude.
Finding family at St. Jude
At St. Jude, Christopher, Jessica and William found a supportive community. Between the staff and the other families who were going through the same thing, they started to feel hope again. Christopher received chemotherapy treatment and a bone marrow transplant. His strength returned.
During treatment at both hospitals, William stayed close to the family. “That support, that warmth, that helping hand is what has kept us going,” said Jessica. “He has never said ‘I can’t.’ We’ve shared the long nights, the early mornings, the medication, the whole process.”
“Christopher knows he can count on me,” says William. “We play around, we tease each other. He doesn’t leave me alone until he goes to bed. We spend the whole day together.”
A St. Jude wedding
When the doctors said that Christopher was cancer-free, the couple didn’t want to wait any longer to celebrate this wedding they had been putting off for so long. They decided to get married at St. Jude, surrounded by their new family.
“We decided St. Jude was the best place,” explained Jessica, “because when we arrived here, we were sad, but now we are happy. Now, [Christopher] is healthy thanks to this hospital.”
A congregation of patient families and St. Jude staff gathered in the Danny Thomas Pavilion, where the excitement and love in the air were palpable. Jessica was luminous in her white dress and bouquet of flowers. The couple exchanged their vows.
“I want her to be very happy,” said Christopher.