When Tony was 9 months old, his parents, Janita and Antonio, noticed he wasn’t putting any weight on his right leg, he was lethargic and had a fever. They took him to the doctor, where Tony had a chest X-ray. “The doctor thought it was a virus,” said Janita, who is a nurse.
St. Jude patient Tony with his mom, Janita
That seemed to make sense, until Tony began to cry out in pain whenever someone touched his leg. Tony’s parents took him to the local children’s hospital, where doctors ran bloodwork, then referred Tony to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital immediately. “They knew it was cancer, but they weren’t sure what kind,” said Janita.
St. Jude patient Tony and his dad, Antonio
At St. Jude, tests confirmed Tony had a rare, aggressive subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since it opened 50 years ago. Tony’s treatment will include chemotherapy.
Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for anything, because all they should worry about is helping their child live.
Tony’s family is grateful for St. Jude. “Here, I get to be hands-on with Tony’s care,” Janita said. “From the first day, Tony and his doctor clicked, and I knew he was in great hands.”
To help give back to the hospital that has done so much for their son, Tony’s family has formed a team for this September’s St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer. “Because of St. Jude, we have our baby,” Janita said.
Tony is a happy little boy who loves his big sisters, Mickey Mouse, and Elmo.