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"Just keep living"

- Traci

Camille Callais

Traci Pritchett


For Traci Pritchett, cancer is a dim memory.

“I think because it started when I was so young, it was just my life,” she says. “I didn’t have a before and after.”

Pritchett was 3 years old when she was diagnosed with a kidney cancer called Wilms tumor. The cancer came back when she was 5, this time in her lung. It returned a third time, again in her lung, when she was 7.

Camille Callais with her parents

Traci Pritchett remembers many of her treatments, but she also remembers getting to be a kid at St. Jude.

The first two times she had cancer, her local doctors worked with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on a treatment plan. The third time, she traveled to St. Jude for care.

The little girl was angry when she arrived at St. Jude. Going through treatment had never been fun, and she did not look forward to doing it again. Sure enough, she fought nausea, lost her appetite, and endured frequent needle sticks.

Pritchett credits her ever-present mom for helping her stay calm, remain positive, and be resilient.

She also recalls how much St. Jude helped her “be a kid.” 

A big playroom had books and a pool table. Someone would often visit to help with art projects. And there was a playground where she could play outside.

Dr. Finkel and Camille

Years after her treatment, Traci Pritchett had the opportunity to talk with James Downing, MD, president and CEO of St. Jude.

This year, Pritchett will receive her 60th anniversary pin from St. Jude, recognition for being a childhood cancer survivor for 60 years. But she would much rather talk about her work with NASA. Currently a technical lead in information technology, Pritchett has worked with NASA for 32 years.

“Being at NASA exposes me to all the cool discoveries they find in space,” she says. “Getting to meet astronauts and hear them speak about their missions is so interesting. Receiving items that were flown on a shuttle mission is something I am proud to have and share with my grandchildren.”

Cancer is part of Pritchett’s story, but it is only a small part.

“It wasn’t all bad,” she says. “It was only bad for a while.” 

In the end, she says it is important to “keep living. Do what you want to do. No matter what you’re facing, it’s just a thing.”


Visit the Together by St. Jude™ online resource to find information and support for families facing childhood cancer and other illnesses. 


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