Nine-year-old Slade is something of an expert on reptiles. Boas, pythons, rattlesnakes and lizards: this junior zoologist can almost identify them all. And if he doesn’t know a reptile’s official name, he’ll give it a creative and catchy nickname just for fun.
In November 2012, Slade and his family were traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday when he developed an earache and a fever. His family took him to an after-hours clinic. There, they were shocked to learn Slade was seriously ill. The doctor who examined Slade arranged for him to travel immediately by ambulance to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The very next day, Slade was found to suffer from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood.
During every visit to St. Jude, Slade insists on stopping at the hospital gift shop for a new toy and eating a hamburger with provolone at the hospital cafeteria, the Kay Kafé.
“I always knew about St. Jude, but never thought I would have a need for it,” said Slade’s mom, Emily. “And what a true blessing. It's the most amazing place in the world!”
Treatments invented at St. Jude have revolutionized leukemia therapy worldwide and increased the survival rate for our patients from 4 percent when St. Jude opened in 1962 to 94 percent today. And 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.
Slade’s treatment at St. Jude included two-and-a-half years of chemotherapy. “I am so proud of the way he has handled himself through all of this,” said Emily. “He’s been brave throughout this experience. I believe he’ll be connected to St. Jude in some way for the rest of his life.”
Slade recently finished treatment and now visits St. Jude for regular checkups. He’s back in school and plays basketball. He loves hamburgers and is a big fan of the NFL.
How can a child go into a procedure with all those nurses and doctors around him and not be scared? But he never is. I will always be indebted to St. Jude. They are saving my child's life.