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Caroline, age 14, and Maci, age 4, retinoblastoma

Friendship knows no age

Caroline and Maci may be 10 years apart in age, but they have more in common than you might think.

“It’s so surreal that, in a small town like ours, you would have two little girls with the same story 10 years apart,” marveled Jennifer. Her daughter, Caroline, is 14 years old. Caroline’s friend, Maci, is only 4 years old. But they share a story and a love for one another that makes age of little importance.

Weeks after Caroline was born, her parents noticed a haze in her left eye. They took her to a pediatrician, and then an ophthalmologist, who referred them to St. Jude. The haze turned out to be an indication of cancer.

At St. Jude, doctors found 5-week-old Caroline suffered from retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye. Her treatment included five months of chemotherapy.

Ten years later, in 2011, little Maci was just weeks old when her parents learned she suffered from retinoblastoma. Maci’s family, too, was referred to St. Jude for lifesaving treatment.

St. Jude goes above and beyond for the families they are treating, and they treat the entire family, not just the patient,” said Cyndi, Maci’s mom. “St. Jude uses a team approach, leaving no stone unturned. We knew right away we were in the best place in the world for Maci to have the best chance at a positive outcome.”

Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened in 1962. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.

And though Maci and Caroline were from the same town and took the same journey, they had never met. But Cyndi knew of Caroline’s story and reached out to Jennifer for support.

A friendship grew between the families, and Caroline and Maci developed a special bond.

St. Jude goes above and beyond for the families they are treating, and they treat the entire family, not just the patient.

Cyndi, Maci’s mom

Now, 14-year-old Caroline is in her first year of high school. She loves math and art, and is part of a competitive dance team. Four-year-old Maci loves her pre-K class and is a Frozen fanatic. They both return to St. Jude for regular checkups.

The girls have more than St. Jude in common. They also share a love of dance. Caroline is an assistant teacher in Maci’s dance classes. “As soon as Maci sees Caroline she runs to her and jumps on her. It’s like they’re sisters,” Jennifer said. “Maci and her family see Caroline making honor roll and thriving and being at the top of her game. It’s a testament that what I’ve shared about St. Jude is the truth.”

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