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St. Jude patient Iris, age 15, non-cancerous brain tumor

Happier trails ahead

St. Jude patient Iris has always loved riding horses and wasn't going to let a brain tumor stop her.

It’s often said that the bond between a horse and a rider is special. For years, 15-year-old Iris has fostered that powerful bond with her own horse, Pinto. And while this fruitful connection has given Iris some of the most enjoyable moments of her life, it’s served a deeper purpose — one that continues to serve as a symbol of hope and inspiration in Iris’ life.

In 2016, when doctors discovered Iris had an aggressive, non-cancerous brain tumor called a craniopharyngioma, they recommended frequent follow-ups. 

But in April 2017, Iris' mom, Elena, decided it was time for a second opinion, and they turned to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. At St. Jude, Iris underwent surgery, during which a portion of the tumor was removed. She then received 30 sessions of proton therapy.


15-year-old Iris enjoys horse riding, and has a special bond with her horse, Pinto.

Later in 2017, Iris completed treatment and returned home to California. It was at that moment that Pinto took on an even more significant role in her life. “Pinto has been a wonderful coping mechanism for Iris,” Elena said. “Iris even created his own social media account.”

Iris now visits St. Jude every three months for checkups — all at no cost to Iris or her family. 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. “They’ve given us hope,” said Elena.

St. Jude is a sanctuary for children who need help.
Elena, St. Jude patient Iris' mom


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