And the Story Continues

A perspective by Patricia and Richard Hale

Perspective: And the Story Continues

Todd Hale at age 7; Todd and his son enjoy a recent sporting event.

St. Jude saves a patient’s life…once again.

In 1981, our 7-year-old son was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, and we were referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This was, at the time, the scariest experience we had ever faced. Todd underwent surgery to determine whether his cancer had spread and to stage his Hodgkin so that an appropriate treatment could be delivered. His protocol consisted of radiation to the upper part of his body. We’ve never seen a medical staff as dedicated and caring as that team of doctors, radiation staff, lab staff and others. We truly believe St. Jude saved Todd’s life when he was a child. When he turned 18, his scheduled appointments stopped.

But the story doesn’t stop here.

In September 2012, a large tumor was discovered on Todd’s thyroid gland. We contacted the operator at St. Jude to explain the situation. She immediately put me in touch with Dr. Melissa Hudson, director of the hospital’s Cancer Survivorship Division.

Dr. Hudson was as interested and caring as our doctors had been in 1981. We couldn’t believe they still cared—this was 31 years later! Not only did Dr. Hudson explain that this was probably a result of childhood radiation, but she called us several times during the next weeks to check on Todd’s surgical results and progress. The tumor was not malignant, but the entire thyroid gland had to be removed and thyroid replacement therapy had to be started. We were thankful again for St. Jude doctors being there for us.

But the story goes on.

After that surgery, Todd visited St. Jude to undergo the follow-up tests that the St. Jude LIFE clinical team does for long-term survivors. During this three-day series of tests, an area of concern was found on Todd’s right side. A renal ultrasound revealed a mass in his right kidney. This time, the tumor was malignant.

The St. Jude physician personally contacted Todd’s local doctor with test results and recommendations. Surgery was performed in December of 2012 to remove the tumor.

Todd’s local surgeon said this tumor had probably been there for two or three years, and if it had gone much longer it could have been life threatening. So, St. Jude again saved our son’s life at age 38.

Everyone who hears this story is in awe of the dedication St. Jude has for the overall health and well-being of childhood cancer patients, even into their adult years. We think God truly had his hand in the establishment of St. Jude, and as parents of a now 39-year-old patient, we are eternally grateful.

Abridged from Promise, Summer 2013

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