Farouk’s journey to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital seems almost impossible, and his parents, Hussam and Linda, are grateful that despite the upheavals in their lives over the last several years, they found their way to St. Jude.
First, they had to flee their home in Syria for Jordan, among the millions of Syrians who left their homes seeking safety.
As a Syrian living in another country, a country that is not yours, it was difficult at the hospital because it’s very expensive to somebody who is a refugee.
Families, like Farouk's, will never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.
Then, in 2013, as refugees in Jordan, they learned their 6-month-old son, Farouk, had retinoblastoma, a type of eye cancer. It was an exceedingly hard time — far away from their home, their baby undergoing chemotherapy.
“In Jordan, we had to pay every penny for treatment, and it was difficult for us,” said Linda, Farouk's mom.
Then, three years later, Hussam and his family moved countries once more — this time as refugees to the United States. Before they left Jordan, Hussam asked Farouk’s doctor where in the United States they should go for Farouk’s continuing care.
“He told me there is a very good hospital called St. Jude in Tennessee. He had studied there. I didn’t know Tennessee, and I didn’t know any English,” Hussam said. “But when we arrived in the United States, the first step we took was to get a referral to St. Jude."
St. Jude doesn’t just work in the United States. They teach doctors around the world how to take care of cancer. And for us, they think not only about your child, the patient, they think about you, the parents, and how you can take care of your child.
Farouk’s care team at St. Jude worked closely with the hospital in Jordan so Farouk’s transition would be seamless. The family has never received a bill from St. Jude for Farouk’s care, nor will they. “They made it so easy — there is car service and treatment and a place to stay for our family,” said Linda.
Today, Farouk is cancer-free and visits St. Jude just for checkups. His parents marvel at how quickly he picked up English, and now, of course, he’s fluent, not only in the language, but the culture. He loves pizza, superheroes, swimming and school. The funny, sociable boy just seems to fit in wherever he goes. His parents credit St. Jude for that ease.
And Farouk takes special pride in caring for his little brother, Jude, who was named after the place that became a lifeline for his family.
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