St. Jude patient Hailey (far left), age 19, ependymoma, with her family on a cruise.

Cruising through graduation

Hailey has been treated at St. Jude for a brain tumor since she was 2 years old. Last year, she graduated from high school and went on the cruise of a lifetime to celebrate.

A high school graduation is a major milestone. In lives touched by childhood cancer, this milestone may be more meaningful still.

Hailey was found to have a rare, cancerous brain tumor called ependymoma when she was only 2 years old. Since that time, the cancer has recurred on three occasions — when Hailey was 11 years old, again at 15, and again at 17. Each time, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has been at the ready, treating Hailey without ever sending her family a bill. Families 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.

“I’ve grown up going to St. Jude," said Hailey. “It’s like home for me, honestly. I’ve been going to St. Jude for 17 years, so it’s helped my family a lot to not have to pay out of pocket for my medical bills. St. Jude has helped us so much! We appreciate everything they have done for us!”

Hailey - senior photo

Hailey celebrates a major milestone in her life — her high school graduation.

When Hailey graduated from high school last year, it was an occasion for celebration. “Our family knew we wanted to do something together as a family before I went off on my own,” said Hailey. “My brother and I had never been on a cruise, so we thought that would be a great way to spend time together.” While aboard the cruise ship, the family travelled to Belize, Cozumel, Costa Rica and Honduras. Honduras was Hailey’s favorite.

Hailey recently finished her freshman year at college, where she made the Chancellor’s and Dean’s lists with a 4.0 GPA and is studying psychology. “I’m so excited about the future,” she said. “I love my major, so I know I’m definitely going in the right direction, and I’m excited to see what God has in store.”

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