A diagnosis of cancer can come unexpectedly and at any moment, and for St. Jude patients like Nick, cancer changes life forever in the blink of an eye. In the summer of 2014, 14-year-old Nick, a promising basketball star with dreams of playing professionally, was competing in basketball camps across the country. As the summer progressed, Nick became exceptionally tired — and stayed that way. He went to the pediatrician for bloodwork. Everyone was at a loss for words when the doctor said Nick’s blood showed signs of cancer and told them to go immediately to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Hours later, Nick arrived at St. Jude to a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood that requires two-and-a-half years of chemotherapy to treat.
Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
We had no idea (that we would never receive a bill from St. Jude). It took on a whole new meaning for my family. It meant a lot. It was one less thing that we had to worry about.
True to this promise, St. Jude covered all costs so Nick’s family could solely focus on saving his life. His mom said, “We had no idea. It took on a whole new meaning for my family. It meant a lot. It was one less thing that we had to worry about.”
During treatment, Nick formed lasting relationships with his medical team, fellow patients and even basketball stars, such as Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies. Speaking about the positive environment at St. Jude while battling ALL, Nick said, “It’s a hospital, but you don’t feel like that when you walk inside. You see all the kids playing and laughing. It’s a great place, a great environment.”
St. Jude patient Nick with Memphis Grizzlies players Mike Conley (left) and Marc Gasol. Nick, who is a talented basketball player, formed a special relationship with Conley while a patient at St. Jude.
Nick also formed a desire to give back to the hospital that saved his life. He created a team comprised of more than 120 friends, family and basketball teammates for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer. Asked how it feels, as a patient, to help find a cure for cancer by joining the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, Nick replied, “I feel truly blessed, because I do see some kids in St. Jude who can’t walk or run, and I know they really would want to. So I’m doing this for those inside that building.”
Along with participating in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer for multiple years, Nick has also hosted toy drives for the kids of St. Jude and has plans to release original music, with proceeds going to St. Jude.
In March of 2017, Nick celebrated his end of treatment with a No More Chemo party, surrounded by his medical team and loved ones. Nick has returned to basketball and is now a junior in high school.