The Cayman Islands are where Mimi was born and her family lives, but during her first year of life, Mimi was rarely there. She was just 2 months old when her parents, Tommy and Mechon, learned she had anaplastic ependymoma, a rare brain cancer.
Mimi underwent surgery to remove the tumor, but when it started to grow again three months later, her parents sought a referral for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“We knew about St. Jude through commercials on TV,” said Mechon. “We wanted to be where the results were the best.”
In November 2013, Mimi and Mechon arrived at St. Jude. Although Mimi’s dad and older brother, Caleb, remained at home, Mimi and Mechon never felt lonely.
“There is such a great support system at St. Jude,” said Mechon. “Mimi’s nurses and the doctors were so wonderful, and we met families who were going through the same things. We rejoiced for each other’s successes. It was a genuine feeling of family.”
At St. Jude, Mimi’s treatment included a second surgery to remove tumor growth, followed by six rounds of chemotherapy. She also received physical and occupational therapies as part of her treatment. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.
Mimi and Mechon returned home once she finished treatment, returning to St. Jude for regular checkups. While Mimi’s scans continued to show no evidence of disease, her family’s experience with cancer was far from over.
History was repeating itself, but this time it was mom – not daughter – who had cancer and needed care.
In 2016, Mechon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She made the difficult decision to leave the kids with Tommy and their family, and traveled alone to the U.S. for her treatment. Mechon found her experiences with Mimi provided her with guidance and strength.
Through Mimi’s treatment and care, St. Jude provided me with strong insights for what to expect with my own treatment. I knew the questions to ask to ensure I understood the trials and protocols, I knew how to care for my central line. I felt confident in dealing with my own medical situation.
In hindsight, Mechon realized how helpful St. Jude had been in streamlining care. “I was responsible for arranging everything related to my own treatment,” she said. “It was a reminder of how helpful St. Jude is, how much they do for their families.”
Mechon’s treatment lasted six months. She’s happy to now be home permanently with her family, who continue to find ways to give back not just to St. Jude, but also to their community. Her family introduced the idea of a “happy cart” at a local pediatric hospital. Called Mimi’s Happy Cart, it provides coloring books, crayons and toys to pediatric patients.
“Our unique experiences have made us live life more passionately,” Mechon said. “We value the important things in life. While our faith was tested, we believe we came out as good as gold.”
Mimi recently visited St. Jude for her five-year post-treatment checkup. “She is doing so well. We are so proud of Mimi,” said Mechon. “She remains an inspiration to us. She’s sassy and she’s funny. She’s thriving. For us, St. Jude continues to mean hope, peace and world-class care.”
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