Tough little Tripp is one of nine children growing up on a family farm. “He’s a little cowboy with a heart the size of Texas,” said his mom, Terri. “He has a lot of grit. I’m very honored to call him my son.”
Tripp has needed more grit than most 5-year-olds, because he is traveling a hard road. But he's not traveling it alone. He has his tight-knit family, and together, they have their faith and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which has been with them every step of the way.
Tripp is currently facing a third bout with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive type of blood cancer. Worse still, his cancer has been resistant to chemotherapy and very difficult to treat.
Family is a big part of Tripp’s story — and St. Jude is a big part of Tripp’s family. “Every one of my children is a piece of a puzzle that makes us whole,” Terri explained. When Tripp needed a bone marrow transplant in June 2015, his 17-year-old sister Hannah became his donor. When he relapsed and needed a second transplant just six months later, his 11-year-old sister Evie donated her cells to save his life.
St. Jude doctors warned Tripp’s family that the second transplant would likely not be as successful as the first. But everything seemed to be going well until Tripp relapsed a second time this May. He will undergo a third bone marrow transplant, this time a haploidentical transplant with his dad as his donor. St. Jude has pioneered the use of haploidentical transplants, which allow a partially-matched donor — a parent — to be their child’s donor.
Tripp has had to endure not only painful medical procedures and side effects, but also being separated from his siblings post-transplant while his immune system rebuilt itself. But a burden has been lifted from his parents’ shoulders knowing Tripp is receiving world-class care at no charge. 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.
“St. Jude is our family. These people hold your hand. These people encourage you. These people lift you up,” said Terri. “They’re here working to make sure that no child dies in the dawn of life. That motto is everything that St. Jude stands on.”