St. Jude patient Nicholas

Relentless drive to a cure

Basketball stars are used to pain, but when determined teen Nicholas' symptoms prevented him from playing his best, his mom knew something was wrong.

What do you do when Chris Paul, the famed point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, chooses you for his training camps? You show up.

Last summer, Nicholas was experiencing a myriad of troubling symptoms — including nausea and persistent fatigue — and they weren’t going away. But he had earned one of only 100 spots for rising high school freshman to attend Paul’s basketball training camp.

“My body was falling apart, and I didn’t know how to express it. So I just kept on pushing through,” Nicholas explained. This six-foot-five-inch, 14-year-old was determined to continue training, pursuing his dreams of going pro someday. Nicholas made it through the training camp, some days barely keeping up, and some days scoring up to 18 points in a game.

Shortly after Nicholas returned from camp, his mom, Tangela, took him to the doctor.

I knew whatever was going on would be life-changing.

Tangela, Nicholas' mom

His pediatrician ran Nicholas’s bloodwork twice before instructing the family to head directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “I knew whatever was going on would be life-changing,” Tangela recalled.

At St. Jude, tests confirmed that Nicholas suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His treatment plan includes two-and-a-half years of chemotherapy. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent in the next decade. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.

Although chemotherapy has delayed Nicholas’ basketball training, he continues to stay connected to the sport. Nicholas was able to visit with Memphis Grizzlies stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol at St. Jude.

 

“It was an opportunity for Nicholas to think about something other than cancer,” Tangela said.

Nicholas is comfortable sharing his story alongside his mom. “The entire family has become passionate about the vision of St. Jude,” Tangela said. “And there are so many people involved in Nicholas’ road to recovery. I wish I could sit down and write a thank you note to every single one.”

Thanks to donors like you, families like Nicholas' never receive a bill from St. Jude for anything.

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