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St. Jude patient Lydia smiling in a colorful hospital room.

Lydia loves to read

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Lydia has an unusual hobby for a kid her age: reading scholarly articles in medical journals. But not just any articles. She’s interested in those authored by Dr. Gajjar, the doctor – along with nurses, researchers and others at St. Jude – working to save her life.

In 2019, when school let out for the summer, Lydia’s parents noticed she was having trouble walking. On July 11, an MRI showed a mass in her brain and five days later she underwent surgery at a hospital near her home. Her oncologist referred them to St. Jude right away.

St. Jude patient Lydia smiling, with cheerful patient art on the wall behind her.
Dr. Amar Gajjar speaking with another researcher.

Dr. Amar Gajjar (right)


Dr. Amar Gajjar, Director of the Neuro-Oncology Division at St. Jude, is researching innovative protocols for the treatment of childhood brain tumors, especially medulloblastoma. Lydia has the WNT subtype of medulloblastoma tumor – the least common, and the most treatable. 

To say the cancer is treatable isn’t to say the treatment is easy. At St. Jude, Lydia has undergone a second resection surgery, proton therapy and chemotherapy. 

St. Jude patient Lydia sitting in a hospital room.

Families, like Lydia's, never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.

Patient Lydia smiling with her mom in a hospital room.

Lydia with her mom


I look at her lab results, especially her kidney function, and I'm like, how does somebody go through this chemotherapy and end up with perfectly functioning kidneys? And it's the protocol that was developed, that Dr. Gajjar did, so she will not have kidney damage.

She will not have major hearing loss. She won't have those side effects. It's more than just saving the child. It's making sure they can have a fulfilling life. It’s pretty incredible.

—Emily, Lydia's mom

St. Jude patient Lydia gazing up while in a colorful hospital room.

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