Jennifer Chavez and her family came to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital when her daughter was diagnosed with an aggressive and high-risk brain tumor, medulloblastoma, and was given a 20% chance of survival. Her daughter underwent six weeks of high-dose radiation and seven months of chemotherapy. Chavez says her daughter was amazing every step of treatment and is living a healthy and full life.
Chavez has been a parent adviser with the Patient Family-Centered Care (PFCC) program since 2017 and is active as a parent mentor on the E-council, hosting Family Talk events, and is the 2019 chair for the Patient Family Advisory Council.
Chavez says she was eager for the opportunity to use her experiences at St. Jude to help the hospital and patient families.
“St. Jude has such a huge place in my heart,” she says. “They saved my daughter’s life. They cared for our family when we thought all hope was gone. They took us in and covered our entire family in love and care. It is truly an honor to be a part of this amazing hospital.”
She said she hopes to help parents and families who are going through the same difficulties and challenges her family endured, but also to celebrate the everyday wins.
“The opportunity to be part of the PFCC program has been absolutely amazing. I’ve been able to work with many different departments within the hospital which has further opened my eyes to the passion that this hospital has for their patients and families,” Chavez said.
She recommends other parents to get involved with the PFCC program to see more of the heart of St. Jude and how everyone works tirelessly to take care of patients and families. Events like Family Talk and St. Jude 101 help families connect, exchange experiences and support each other.
“I always knew St. Jude was an amazing hospital, but once you’ve lived and breathed it, it becomes a part of you,” she said. “This place has forever changed my and my family’s life. To be a member of the PFCC program has filled a place in my heart and soul that I never would have known needed to be filled. Cancer will always be part of our family’s story, but now St. Jude will be as well, and I’m thankful to serve such an incredible hospital.”
Chavez leads a busy life outside of her volunteer work at St. Jude. She helped organize her hometown’s first St. Jude Walk/Run, operates an online business, and is a substitute teacher at her daughters’ school. She loves being with her family and being active in her community.