Amris appears in a St. Jude commercial, with her parents recounting their daughter's St. Jude story.
Ross and Marlee were planning to take their happy, healthy baby, Amris, to the beach right after her 2-year-old wellness checkup.
Instead, by ten o'clock the following night, doctors found a kiwi-sized mass on the bottom of her brain. In July of 2012, Amris was diagnosed with ATRT.
Surgeons were able to remove part of it, but the prognosis was daunting. Ross and Marlee were advised to take Amris home, and to take a lot of pictures.
“We knew then we were in for a long fight,” said Ross.
With a referral, Amris arrived at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“Just as soon as we walked through those doors, we just… we felt better," said Amris’ mom, Marlee. "It was like a big relief. We started treatment and they gave us hope.”
While undergoing treatment, one of Amris' favorite things was to dance to the jukebox in a common area of the inpatient floor. After several months, scans showed no evidence of disease, and Amris was able to return home. “We all just burst into tears," said her dad, Ross. "We had come so far from 'This is almost impossible to beat' to now, 'we’ve beat it.'”
Amris started school, and became a big sister. She was cancer-free for five years. But in 2018, scans during a checkup at St. Jude showed a recurrence. The long fight was renewed.
Research developments in treatment for brain tumors had continued in the intervening years. “It's amazing to see the growth in the research field,” said Ross in 2019. “They have specific treatments for relapse situations like we're in now. We hold on to hope, and St. Jude provides that hope for us. We know they're here working. We know their goal is to help these kids, kids like Amris.”
“She's the light that lights up the room,” he said. “She's always smiling, she's always got love in her heart for everyone, and even in the toughest of situations, she smiles her way through it. She's tougher than either my wife or I, I can guarantee you that, and she's just my hero.”
1 in 5 children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive. You can join the battle to save lives by becoming a Partner in Hope today.
Unfortunately, although research and treatment gave Amris more time, she ultimately did not survive the recurrence of her cancer. Amris passed away days before her eleventh birthday.
Amris brought so much joy to her family and friends and to everyone who knew her at St Jude. She was loved and cherished, and her smile will not be forgotten.