At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, we give thanks for the big achievements. And for the small, precious moments, too. Because all too often, they’re one and the same.
Stephanie can tell you. “Even if we’re just going on a walk, it’s amazing. It’s not like we have to go to some big amusement park. We’re literally on the sidewalk walking and it’s awesome, because he’s talking and he’s walking, and he’s running around picking flowers.”
She’s talking about her son Lucas. His smile could be one of those moments — big and precious at the same time.
He’s 4 now and that’s another reason to give thanks, because more moments were never guaranteed when he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a devastating brain tumor.
When moms and dads bring their kids to St. Jude, they’re very rarely looking for guarantees. They want hope. They crave the possibility for more birthdays, more long walks and first days of school. More laughter and dreams and moments spent together.
With the new St. Jude strategic plan, $3.7 billion will be spent to expand cancer-focused research and related clinical care. Expanding the possibility of hope itself. This includes key focus placed on cancers with the lowest survival rates and the goal of unlocking secrets of several difficult-to-treat pediatric cancers like infant leukemia. And brain cancer.
Bold and audacious goals like the new $11.5 billion plan are what lead to big moments in science. At St. Jude, we share breakthroughs because when we have the ability to help others in need, we have a responsibility to do so. And with 400,000 new cases of childhood cancer around the world each year — the vast majority in low- and middle-income countries without resources to diagnose and treat those diseases — our responsibility to help has never been more apparent.
This is why I give thanks for all of you — our supporters, donors and volunteers — during this Thanksgiving week. Without you, St. Jude wouldn’t be embarking on a bold plan to attempt raising global survival rates of six of the most common forms of childhood cancer from less than 20 percent to 60 percent.
St. Jude wouldn’t have been able to launch such a crucial plan during a pandemic.
And we wouldn’t be able to continue impacting more families and more kids like Lucas. At St. Jude, he underwent radiation treatment, port placement surgery, seven chemotherapy cycles, sedations, six MRIs and five lumbar punctures.
But he also visited a pumpkin farm and picked apples. He got to know Puggle and Huckleberry, the St. Jude facility dogs, and join the homecoming parade for astronaut and former St. Jude patient Hayley Arceneaux.
Small, precious moments in the scheme of things.
The really big moment came with his No More Chemo party. And just a couple of weeks ago, Lucas left St. Jude.
He’s home for Thanksgiving.
He’s taking walks with his mom, fishing with dad and playing with his little brother. He’s picking flowers. He’s with his family, smiling.
I can’t think of a better Thanksgiving moment. I can’t think of a better reason to say ‘thank you’ to all of you.
I hope this week brings you comfort and peace, and time spent safely with family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for — the small moments and big.