One of the first things people notice about 1-year-old Thompson are his big, beautiful blue eyes. But when he was just 6 months old, his parents learned those big, beautiful eyes were at risk — and so was his life.
“We would take his picture or we would look at him in a certain light, and there was a reflection in his left eye,” says Thompson’s mother. “We were thinking, maybe it’s a cataract. We had never heard of retinoblastoma.”
But a trip to the ophthalmologist revealed retinoblastoma — cancer of the eye — was exactly the cause of the whitish glare they saw. “It was tumors, actually, that we were seeing,” Thompson’s mom explains.
Thompson’s parents, in shock, were referred to a children’s hospital for Thompson’s treatment. But before they made arrangements there, a family friend urged them to consider St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They obtained a referral from Thompson’s doctor and soon after received a phone call from a nurse practitioner at St. Jude.
"She laid out everything. I remember just crying, because no one had helped us that much so far," said Thompson's mother. “The nurse said, ‘Everything is lined up. They’re going to be waiting on you at Patient Services.’”
At St. Jude, doctors discovered Thompson actually had tumors in both eyes. He began a grueling course of treatment including intravenous chemotherapy, chemotherapy injections to his left eye and cryotherapy to both eyes. Thompson completed treatment in January but continues to travel to St. Jude every four to six weeks for an examination under anesthesia, during which doctors make sure there has been no new tumor growth.
And Thompson's family never received a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
In spite of it all, Thompson has held on to his sweet disposition. “From day one, he has been the happiest baby,” says his mom. “Thompson is very low-maintenance. Everyone has fallen in love with him at St. Jude!”
Thompson’s family has fallen in love with St. Jude, too. “They are so on top of everything,” says his mom. “I don’t know where we’d be without St. Jude. I don’t know where Thompson would be without St. Jude. They make everything possible. They have made a bright future for Thompson.”