Coming to the right place
Luigi's parents learned that St. Jude has expertise in treating their son's type of brain tumor — so they came here seeking a lifesaving cure for him.
Luigi’s mom, Tomoko, is from Japan. His dad, Louis, is a New Yorker. Recently, Luigi developed a taste for something neither parent might have expected: country music.
But far more unexpected was the turn of events that brought Luigi and his parents to Tennessee in the first place.
For months, Luigi had been having symptoms that doctors believed was torticollis, resulting in a stiff neck. Then, in August 2018, a neurology referral, and a scan showed a golf ball-sized mass in the rear of Luigi’s brain. The diagnosis was medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumor.
He was referred to a top cancer center near his home, but his parents just didn’t have a good feeling about the proposed treatment plan. In the U.S. and in Japan, all their families’ research into medulloblastoma treatment kept turning up the same result: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
St. Jude has made strides in the typing and treating of medulloblastoma, and treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened in 1962.
The compassion, combined with this expertise convinced them to seek a referral. After Luigi’s parents spoke with Dr. Robinson at St. Jude, said Tomoko, the feeling was: "He's the one. St. Jude is the one."
“So, we just packed our bags, and we came here the fifth of September,” said Louis.
The conviction that St. Jude was the right place for Luigi lasted the whole of his treatment, which included chemotherapy and proton therapy.
“To be honest,” said Louis, “some charities don't do the right thing, so you get a little bit suspicious of them. Coming here, it's everything they say it is. It just changes you, the whole experience.”
“Their main focus is, really, children, and to cure them,” said Tomoko. “Not just him but other children in the future, too.”
Now cancer-free, Luigi has returned home and will come back to St. Jude for regular checkups. In addition to country music, he loves to dance, and for this pursuit, music is preferred but optional – he just loves being active and having fun.
He also loves art and robots, especially green robots, and combines these two interests by creating robot armor and helmets out of paper.
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