The lovely Lauren claims a unique career aspiration: “I want to do little girls’ makeup so I can make them happy and transform them into princesses, or even do little boys’ makeup so they can become pirates.” And her time as a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital inspired this plan.
In early 2016, Lauren, who is now 18 years old, went through several months of trips back and forth to her doctor for unexplained pain when sitting down. When she underwent a CT scan, ultrasound and ultimately a biopsy, doctors learned the source of Lauren’s pain was cancer. “I was experiencing shock and confusion,” Lauren’s mom, Erin, recalled. “I can remember trying not to cry. And Lauren looked at me and her dad and asked, ‘Am I going to die?’”
You leave home, but you come to a home at St. Jude.
Lauren’s doctor referred her to St. Jude for treatment, where it was confirmed that she had a type of soft tissue cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. “I definitely attribute Lauren’s success to how fast and how efficient St. Jude was in getting her evaluated and having a treatment plan to enroll her in right away,” Erin said.
St. Jude has helped push the overall survival rate for childhood cancer from less than 20% when we first opened our doors to more than 80% today. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
A year of chemotherapy at St. Jude included numerous transitions for Lauren and her family, but it helped that St. Jude provided specialized care and a warm environment. “You leave home, but you come to a home at St. Jude,” Erin explained.
A significant change for Lauren was losing her hair due to side effects from chemotherapy. “When my hair fell out I didn’t want to walk around bald, so I turned to makeup to help me,” Lauren shared. She learned how to do her eyebrows and apply fake lashes. “I felt like if I could do those things I would look ‘normal’ again.”
Spring 2017 brought about some happier transitions. Lauren was able to attend her prom and graduate high school, and is now nearing the end of treatment. She has plans to begin esthetician training in 2018. “I’ve always liked makeup,” Lauren said, “but being at St. Jude helped me know that’s what I want to do with my life.”
Lauren will return to St. Jude for regular checkups. “I’m ready for Lauren to start living her life,” said Erin. “I’m blessed that I can say she’s going to get through this.”