A series of miraculous coincidences put Adam Duggan in a church on December 18, 2010, to marry Kate Marler.
Exactly 23 years before — on December 18, 1987 — Adam's mother had taken 18-month-old Adam to the pediatrician for symptoms similar to a stomach virus. While he was being X-rayed, the toddler moved. Instead of discarding that image, the technicians examined it. There was a tumor behind his heart. It was neuroblastoma, a tumor of the sympathetic nervous system.
Fortunately, the cancer was discovered then, because Adam later learned that his symptoms were related to a virus, rather than the tumor. He was referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where doctors decided to remove the tumor. When the surgeon who was scheduled for the procedure got the flu, a former St. Jude doctor, who had pioneered Adam’s lifesaving surgery, came out of retirement to perform the procedure. Adam returned to St. Jude for check-ups until he was 18.
On their special day in 2010, he and Kate chose to pay tribute to St. Jude by making their wedding favor a scroll that recognized the hospital’s mission and let guests know how to make a donation to St. Jude. The wedding favors are part of the St. Jude Tributes program, which includes memorial and honor cards to recognize loved ones, and specialty cards that take note of a variety of occasions, including weddings, Mother’s Day, graduations and holidays. The program’s support for St. Jude has grown from $2 million 15 years ago to $17 million in 2012.
"I am a walking testament to the fact that the money from donors and events is not being wasted," says Adam, who now works for ALSAC, the fundraising organization for St. Jude. "I look forward to speaking with donors every day and being able to share firsthand what their donations are doing — and have done — for the children of St. Jude."
As he grew up, Adam had talked about working for St. Jude. In July 2012, he and Kate moved to Memphis for his job with ALSAC. Kate and Adam are expecting their first child, a boy, this month.
"St. Jude means many different things to my family and me," Adam says. "To my parents, it means having their baby boy. To my grandparents, it means having their grandson. To my wife, it means having her husband and a baby on the way; and to me it means having an opportunity to make a difference. I am so happy to be able to give back to the hospital that gave me so much."
To learn more about how you can send a St. Jude tribute, visit stjude.org/tributes.
Reprinted from Promise Winter 2013