Skip to main content
St. Jude patient Dawson, age 11, acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Super trouper

Dawson is a strong, athletic kid. On Super Bowl Sunday in 2016, his parents received news that would change their lives — Dawson had cancer. 

In early 2016, Dawson — a magnetic, athletic kid — wasn’t feeling well. He was tired and his glands were swollen. The Wednesday before Super Bowl Sunday, his pediatrician did labs and determined it was likely mono.

But on game day, his parents, David and Farrah, decided to take him to the emergency room. They thought he was dehydrated and would be given fluids. Instead, following blood work, the doctor sat them down and said there was a possibility Dawson had cancer. “We just looked at each other like, no way. You have the wrong child,” Farrah recalled.


St. Jude patient Dawson with his sister Elaina, his mom, Farrah, and his dad Dave.

But it was true. Dawson had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, blood cancer. As his condition quickly declined, he was admitted to the ICU, and his parents sought a referral to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“As soon as we got here, we just felt the peace,” said Farrah. “And they got him out of the ICU in less than 12 hours.”

“They got me feeling better so fast,” added Dawson.

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. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, and we won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.




As soon as we got here, we just felt the peace.
Farrah, mother of St. Jude patient Dawson


Dawson is now 11 years old and has undergone about 22 months of chemotherapy. By the time he completes treatment, he will have received chemotherapy for two and a half years. “Dawson’s never complained,” said David. “He just squared his shoulders and has plowed right through. He’s a trouper.”

Farrah said, “He can’t play aggressive sports like he wants to because he’s got a port, and he’s going through this treatment, but we try to keep building good memories along this journey. We hope that he can look back and say, ‘You know, it was tough, but I learned some things and I’m gonna be a better person after all of this.’”

Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.

When you donate monthly, your gift means families, like Dawson'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.

Donate Monthly


Meet more patients