It can be difficult to describe the journey through childhood cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
But Katie Bruce and her husband, Ryan, managed to sum it up in a few words inscribed in an 8-inch by 8-inch brick: “Fighting the fight—our little boy, Jack Bruce.”
The brick is one of about 11,000 that adorn a walkway around the St. Jude campus called the Pathway to Hope. These bricks—available for individual dedication—often represent the hopes and dreams of St. Jude families and supporters, and honor the recovery or the memory of beloved children in the fight of their lives.
For the Bruce family, the battle has been a success.
“Jack is doing wonderfully well,” Katie says of her son, 7, who was diagnosed with the soft tissue tumor rhabdomyosarcoma just before his second birthday.
“The brick is a constant reminder that Jack will always be fighting his fight and the fact that if anything ever happens to him again, we know that St. Jude will welcome him with open arms,” she says. “It is an honor to have my son’s name on such an amazing tribute.”
Jack suffered a relapse in 2009 and returned to St. Jude for treatment. He has had no evidence of disease for four years, Katie says. The family still travels to St. Jude every six months from their Illinois home so that Jack can get scans to ensure there has been no recurrence of cancer.
Today, Jack is a happy, healthy boy who is “an awesome big brother to his best little buddy, Tucker,” Katie says.
He loves dirt bike riding, fishing, playing with his dog and any activity that involves mud.
“I could never put into words what St. Jude means to our family,” Katie says. “They saved my baby boy not once, but twice. The care, dedication and love that are in the hospital are phenomenal. St. Jude will forever hold a special place in my heart.”
A new section of the Pathway to Hope is being created for the sidewalk surrounding a $198 million tower under construction at St. Jude. The pathway gives supporters and families like Jack’s an opportunity to pay tribute to loved ones. Four types of bricks, ranging in size from 4.5 x 9 inches to 16 x 16 inches, are available for dedication at various donation levels.
The new tower includes the first proton therapy center in the world dedicated solely to children, as well as a state-of-the-art surgery center, intensive care unit and a global education and collaboration center. All proceeds from dedications for the new Pathway to Hope will go toward the tower.
For more information or to order a brick, visit stjude.org/brick-dedications or call 1-800-395-1087.
Abridged from Promise, Summer 2014