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St. Jude patient Connor, age 11, brain tumor

One note at a time

Just before New Year's Eve 2016, Connor and his family received news that would change the tune of his life. At St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Connor's love of music is helping carry him through treatment for a brain tumor called germinoma.

Eleven-year-old Connor has always been a cheerful and active boy. A sports fanatic, Connor participates in athletics year round, with soccer and baseball being among his favorites. But in 2017, when Connor found himself undergoing treatment for a rare brain tumor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, he soon discovered a new passion — music.

Around Christmas 2016, Connor started feeling exceptionally tired. His mom, Susan, quickly noticed the symptoms and suspected something was wrong. After a visit to their local pediatrician, Connor was diagnosed with an ear infection and was prescribed antibiotics. While Connor’s symptoms temporarily improved, he could barely keep his eyes open by New Year’s Eve.


St. Jude patient Connor with his mom, Susan

A few days later, when Connor had a seizure, his parents rushed him to the emergency room, where doctors conducted a CT scan and found a tumor in his brain. Within hours, Connor and his family were on their way to St. Jude.

After a biopsy confirmed Connor suffered from a rare brain tumor called germinoma, he began a treatment protocol that included four rounds of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation therapy.

And as Connor underwent treatment, he soon found a safe space in a small and portable companion — his headphones.

Connor would put on his headphones and listen to his favorite songs. That really helped give him comfort throughout the experience.

Susan, St. Jude patient Connor's mom

Connor’s safe space soon reached new heights when he connected with the St. Jude Child Life Program. In collaboration with St. Jude child life specialists, Connor went on to write and record his own raps, which chronicled his experience with cancer.

“That was so much more comfortable for him than sitting down and talking about his experience,” said Susan. “Music became his safe space and allowed him to go into his own zone and better cope with the situation.”

Today, Connor is finished with treatment, and the family has returned home to Georgia. They are grateful for the comfort and care St. Jude provided.

“I’m so grateful we went to St. Jude,” said Susan. “I can’t imagine going through this experience without the phenomenal levels of support that St. Jude provided. It was a holistic approach to care that covered mind, body and soul.”


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