Ana, Sara and Sofia are close in age. Like many little girls, they love princesses and the movie Frozen. They also share a diagnosis of neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor, and are receiving treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
When Ana and Sara are together, they speak in Serbian, their native language. When their friend Sofia, who is from Ecuador, is with them, the girls break into English, their shared language.
There’s no comparison between the treatment in Serbia and here.
At St. Jude, we were given hope. And when you have hope, you can fight.
A year ago, their families hadn’t met. Now they’re inseparable.
In early 2014, the families of Ana, Sara and Sofia were desperate to get their daughters the best care possible after each of them were found to suffer from neuroblastoma. Their searches all led them to the same place: St. Jude.
St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent within the next decade. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
Ana’s family arrived at St. Jude shortly before Sara’s. They were connected by mutual friends in Serbia. “Ana’s family helped me decide St. Jude was where we needed to be,” said Sara’s dad. “From the moment we arrived, I feel we have gotten the whole package, the best,” he said. “Sara’s treatment is incredible. Her doctor is wonderful.”
Likewise, Sofia’s family knew they were where they needed to be the moment they arrived at St. Jude from Ecuador. “St. Jude is always a step ahead,” Sofia’s mom said. “Anything you need, they’ll provide. We never imagined we’d come to a place like this.”
The girls all started treatment plans developed at St. Jude, which include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a natural killer (NK) cell therapy and a unique antibody treatment produced onsite at St. Jude.
Given they all started treatment around the same time, the girls and their families became close after seeing each other at the hospital and the Target House, the residence provided for them by St. Jude. They celebrated holidays together, weathered treatment and built a home away from home.
Bolstered by the support of St. Jude and each other, the girls’ families are hopeful about the future. All three girls are now back in their home countries, and will return to St. Jude for regular checkups. “There’s no comparison between the treatment in Serbia and at St. Jude,” said Ana’s mother. “At St. Jude, we were given hope. And when you have hope, you can fight.”