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A reason to run

Meet St. Jude patient Aubrey

St. Jude patient Aubrey is celebrating the end of her chemotherapy treatment with the help of 32 of her friends and family who will participate in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend on December 3. The number 32 represents the 32 months of treatment she received at St. Jude to beat her cancer.


This December, 32 friends and family members of Aubrey will come to Memphis to help celebrate Aubrey’s end of treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They will bring their running shoes and their hearts, and they will participate in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, Half Marathon and Grizzlies 5K as part of Team Aubrey.

No matter how difficult the miles are, how cold the weather may be or how long it takes them to cross the finish line, Team Aubrey won’t quit. After all, for more than two-and-a-half years during treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), Aubrey never once gave up.

Today, Aubrey is once again an active, social girl who loves going to her brothers’ soccer games, singing and dancing with her friends and going to the local high school football games on Friday nights. Aubrey’s parents, Amy and Chad, are thankful to see their 11-year-old daughter take joy in everyday activities. “The blessings this illness and journey have brought us are many,” Amy said. “We thank God every day that He placed us in the hands of St. Jude.”

The family’s journey to St. Jude began almost three years ago, when Aubrey’s step-grandfather, who never minces words, stared at Aubrey across the table and said, “You’re so pale, you look like Casper the Friendly Ghost.” Aubrey’s mother, Amy, felt offended. After all, it was winter, and most people are pale for the season.

But when Aubrey’s grandmother remarked on her pallor the next day, Amy decided to take her to the pediatrician to check for anemia. Five hours after that visit, Aubrey’s doctor pulled into the driveway of the family home. This was a close-knit town in Indiana, and the doctor wanted to be there in person to deliver the news. “I’m so sorry,” the pediatrician told Amy, “but Aubrey has leukemia.”

“I felt numb,” said Amy. “I know I must have been in shock because I was shaking.”

Amy’s friend—a nurse—was there that night, and she urged the family to take Aubrey to St. Jude. Amy obtained the referral and drove through the night. Aubrey’s dad, who had been away on a trip, met them at the hospital.

St. Jude doctors started Aubrey on St. Jude ALL protocol 16, which uses phased chemotherapy to rid the body of cancer. At times, treatment was difficult on Aubrey. She had serious negative side effects to some of the drugs, but her St. Jude medical team was quick to respond and monitored Aubrey very closely and tailored her treatment specifically for her.

“The medical team at St. Jude makes the best decisions for her,” said Amy. “I feel comfortable and confident that Aubrey is getting the best care. No matter what happens, they know what to do.”

Despite everything she’s been through the past two-and-a-half years, Aubrey has remained in high spirits. She’s stayed active doing things like hula hooping and jumping rope, things that have helped build her strength back up.

“We had such a normal life before,” said Amy. “Good friends, good grades, safe community. We were blessed. And this may sound strange, but I still think we’re blessed. This situation woke us up to realities that many families face. I see people differently now. I have more compassion, and Aubrey does too.”

As Aubrey prepares to finish her treatment this December, her 32 friends and family members will rally around her, as they have since her diagnosis. The number 32 is significant, as Aubrey will have had just over 32 months of treatment.

The race weekend will take place just days before Aubrey receives her final chemotherapy treatment. “It’s a way for everyone who love Aubrey to help give back to the hospital that saved her life,” said Amy. “We’re humbled by the goodness and greatness that happens inside the walls of St. Jude.”