In Carrie-Lynn, her parents learned they had a prodigy. The child from Barbados had a gift for calypso and gospel singing, and she had won local awards for her beautiful voice. She also played the piano.
Before she became ill in 2012, the 11-year-old was planning her next calypso competition. A friend had written a song for her about Barbados’ most famous pop singer, Rihanna—but Carrie-Lynn never got to sing it. Instead, she was diagnosed with a type of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia. Her parents wondered if she would ever sing again.
The family traveled to New York seeking treatment, but time and again, they were turned away because their insurance was rejected. Each hospital they contacted in New York and other parts of the United States wanted a hefty deposit – except for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Unlike any other hospital, St. Jude relies on funding from everyday people. Thanks to generous donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude.
But Carrie-Lynn’s father admits he was worried.
“They show St. Jude commercials in Barbados, so I knew of St. Jude, but we had no support system here,” he said. “I worried we’d feel isolated from our family when we needed them most.”
At St. Jude, doctors worked quickly to make Carrie-Lynn well. Unable to find a match for Carrie-Lynn, doctors at St. Jude were able to perform a haploidentical transplant with her father as her non-match donor. But this transplant, which took place on June 21, 2012, failed.
To say I’m glad we came to St. Jude would be an understatement. They have been so good to her.
Carrie-Lynn’s parents were devastated, but her St. Jude doctors would not give up. In late 2012, she received a second bone marrow transplant at St. Jude. St. Jude invents more clinical trials than any other children’s hospital, which is why the world looks to St. Jude for new and better ways to treat childhood cancer.
Carrie-Lynn is still fighting, and has promised to sing for her doctors once she gets better. She and her parents live for that day.
“To say I’m glad we came to St. Jude would be an understatement,” said Carrie-Lynn’s father. “They have been so good to her. They are our family here.”