Claire and her four siblings love the outdoors. At their family’s home in Utah, they’re close to the mountains and love to ride bikes, kayak and play together outside.
But last summer, the family’s routine was disrupted when Claire began to have headaches and would occasionally throw up. Her symptoms lingered and her parents, Jayne and Caleb, became increasingly worried.
At first, the family’s doctor thought Claire was developing migraines. When tests finally revealed Claire had a rare, cancerous brain tumor called a medulloblastoma, her doctor began the referral process to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“We were familiar with St. Jude,” said Jayne. “But I didn’t realize how amazing it would be until we arrived. We’ve felt very blessed to be here.”
Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened more than 50 years ago.
At St. Jude, Claire’s treatment included 30 rounds of proton therapy and seven rounds of chemotherapy, which she finished in May 2019.
“I often think of one year ago; Claire came so near to death and her future was so unclear,” said Jayne. “Then I look at her now; so full of life and joy and health, with no detectable cancer and no serious side effects from treatment.”
While Claire was undergoing treatment, her siblings – Emmy, Amelia, Jonah and Henry – were in Memphis, too, and helped keep her spirits up. Being together provided the family with a sense of normalcy.
“We’re a close-knit family. Claire’s best friends are her siblings,” Jayne said. “After a hard day at the hospital, she could come home to them. Having our family together took so much fear and sadness out of cancer treatment.”
St. Jude also sparked Claire’s desire to learn. Her favorite school subjects are art and science, and since being at the hospital, Claire’s love of science blossomed.
“Her care team is so helpful in answering her questions,” Jayne said. “She wanted to know about blood cells and proton therapy and protons.”
Claire and her family are enjoying being back home. “We’ve been playing in our Utah mountains,” Jayne said. Claire and her siblings are back to doing everything they love – camping, biking and kayaking.
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