As a baby, Aubrey met her milestones — walking, talking — on time. When she was 3 years old, her parents enrolled her in her first dance lessons. Aubrey quickly fell in love.
“We thought she’d go to dance until it was time for her to start t-ball or soccer,” said her mom, Melinda. “But from the start, it was always dance.”
It made her happy. Aubrey lit up whenever she was on stage.
When she was on stage, Aubrey was transported to another place, her eyes sparkling as brightly as the sequins sewn into her dance costumes.
Aubrey practiced 10 hours a week and danced on a competitive team, always eager to learn new types of dance. She loved it all — musical theater, ballet and tap.
But in June 2017, Aubrey began to have difficulty during practice. “We noticed she wasn’t spotting her turns like she used to,” Melinda said. “She wasn’t picking up her dance routines as quickly and she was having problems remembering her steps.”
Aubrey began to throw up almost daily and her eyes started to cross. She was in and out of doctor offices, but no one could pinpoint what was wrong. Tests soon revealed Aubrey had a rare, cancerous brain tumor called a medulloblastoma.
At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Aubrey’s treatment included chemotherapy, radiation therapy and proton therapy. She also had physical and occupation therapies, which helped her focus on regaining her balance and stamina.
Near the end of her treatment, Aubrey’s Child Life specialist learned a St. Jude photographer wanted to take photos of a patient who danced on the stage of Memphis’ historic Orpheum Theater, with its backdrop of glittering chandeliers and majestic red velvet curtains. Aubrey was the first patient she thought of for those photos.
Not long after, Aubrey grasped the handrail in the historic theater and took her first steps back onstage.
“Aubrey is brave and beautiful,” Melinda said. “Seeing her on stage felt like coming home, it felt like life getting back to normal.”
Since that photo shoot on stage in Memphis, Tenn. Aubrey has completed treatment and now visits St. Jude for regular checkups. She’s back to taking dance classes, attending school and hanging out with her friends. She also had the opportunity to see a ballet on stage in New York City, fueling her dreams for the future.
Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.
When you donate monthly, your gift means families, like Aubrey's, never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.