Finding community in an unlikely place

 

Slater's best friend is his older brother, Sawyer. With Sawyer's support, along with that of his family, Slater's getting what he needs while undergoing treatment for neuroblastoma.

 


 

 
 

After a trip to the doctor, Slater's parents, Shari and Shane, learned their child had cancer. They first noticed something was wrong when he developed a limp. “I picked him up at pre-school and his teacher said he hadn’t wanted to play outside,” Shane said. “That wasn’t like him.”

St. Jude patient Slater

When Slater’s parents heard the word 'cancer,' their world crumbled. “We’d donated to St. Jude,” Shane said. “And I remember seeing the commercials and thinking, 'Wow, I can’t imagine any parent having to go through that.'”

Suddenly, Shari and Shane were those parents. “No one ever wants to hear the news that your child has cancer,” said Shari. “Once we got to St. Jude, we were so surprised with how generous and compassionate everyone is, how empathetic.”

Finding out what exactly was wrong with Slater wasn’t easy. He was in and out of doctor offices for months before tests finally revealed Slater had neuroblastoma, a very rare cancerous tumor. His doctor broke into tears as she told his parents. Then she referred them to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

 
 
St. Jude patient Slater with his older brother

At St. Jude, Slater’s treatment has included chemotherapy, immunotherapy and proton therapy. “Slater’s doctor is incredible,” said Shane. “As soon as we got here, she said, 'OK, this is neuroblastoma and this is how we fix it.' She was so positive. She gave us a plan.”

Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened more than 50 years ago.

 
 
 

“Before you come to St. Jude, you have this despair over what’s happening to your child that you can’t fix,” Shari said. “And then you get here and St. Jude is just so unique. You have this community around you. The nurses and doctors are wonderful. It’s the best of the best.”

Patient Slater with his family during the holidays

Patient Slater with his family during the holidays

Slater is best friends with his big brother, Sawyer. The boys like to play video games and watch movies together. “Having Sawyer here has been exactly what Slater needs,” Shari said.

While Slater’s treatment is often difficult, and there have been long days, Shari finds constant comfort in being at St. Jude.

“I have such faith in this place,” she said. “I have faith in the doctors. Slater is getting the best care in the world.”

 
 


 

 

Once we got to St. Jude, we were so surprised with how generous and compassionate everyone is, how empathetic.

Shari, mom of St. Jude patient Slater

 
 

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