Sixteen-year-old Emily and her older sister, Callie, have been making music together for about as long as Emily can remember.
Music has been my everything my whole life. It’s always been something — when I’m feeling down — I can sing, and it just gives me a feeling that everything is gonna be OK.
Emily was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), an extremely rare subtype of leukemia, in April of 2016 and was referred to
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
“That was especially true my first week at
St. Jude … my sister came in with her guitar, and we began to sing. (Music) gives me a sense of home. Music is very grounding to me.”
Families never receive a bill from
St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
Dear @Alabama_Shakes ...
Both sisters are fervent fans of the band the Alabama Shakes. Callie, knowing that the Shakes were playing a concert in Memphis, reached out to the band via social media, on behalf of Emily, to ask if they would visit
On July 15, 2016, the band arrived at
The Alabama Shakes toured the hospital to see firsthand what St. Jude is all about.
The band viewed the Teen Art Gallery, where the drawings and paintings of teen patients are displayed in the hospital.
Singer Brittany Howard and the band learned about St. Jude's Music Therapy program.
It was really enlightening coming (to St. Jude) ... you walk in and there’s kids being kids, there’s laughter, there’s art and music going on. It’s actually a really great and hopeful place to be.
Brittany Howard, lead singer of the Alabama Shakes
St. Jude patient Emily takes selfie with Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard. Brittany was treated for retinoblastoma as a child, though she wasn't a patient at St. Jude.
Emily finished treatment in December 2016 and visits
St. Jude for regular checkups. She still enjoys making music with her older sister.
“I’m so thankful the Alabama Shakes came to
St. Jude … Now I feel like I’m ready to start my treatment, because my soul is cleansed. I got to sing with some of my favorite people in the world.”