Life after St. Jude:
We are the Champions

Everyone wins when childhood cancer survivors
volunteer to help tomorrow’s patients.

By Jimmy Parker; Photo by Justin Veneman

 

Twenty-seven years. Four state championships. Hundreds of student-athletes. As a teacher and softball coach, I tell my students that good things happen if you work hard. But that doesn’t just mean wins and losses on the field. For me, the ultimate victory occurs when I send kids out of my program into the world to do great things. 

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to some of those kids if St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital had not made my future possible.

Jimmy Parker

Supporting young people:

“For me, the ultimate victory occurs when I send kids out of my program into the world to do great things,” says Jimmy Parker.

I was 13 when I learned I had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. My cancer didn’t go into remission as quickly as the doctors would have liked. The cranial irradiation and 30 months of chemo robbed me of my teenage years, as well as my shoulder-length hair (it was the ’70s, after all).

Eventually I returned to a normal life, graduating from college and marrying Cecellia, who is also a childhood cancer survivor.

I think about St. Jude every day.

I also think about the children who went before me. My cancer cure occurred because St. Jude patients in the 1960s  and early 1970s participated in research. Now I feel a responsibility to give back. I donate money to St. Jude every month, but taking part in survivorship research is the best way I know to make a difference.

Each time I arrive at St. Jude and see the amazing research facilities, I know that behind those walls, great things are going on. 

St. Jude has remained a part of my family’s life and will forever. My brother constantly fundraises for the hospital. Even my daughter, Darbi, is a supporter. She knows that if I hadn’t received treatment at St. Jude, she wouldn’t be here. One day, when I’m gone, my daughter will carry on the love and care that I have for St. Jude.

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