The little girl with the big orange bow in her hair had endured a dangerous blood clot, spiking fevers and even brain-swelling. But all of that seemed like ancient history as she bounded through the halls of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital earning high-fives and applause from passersby.
Five-year-old Lily was done with treatment, as her “Straight Outta Chemo” T-shirt emphatically declared. Now she was on her way to behold a surprise, to see something she had been wanting for quite some time — a brick.
The story behind the surprise is as simple as it is inspiring.
While undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia at St. Jude, Lily and her mom frequently walked along the Pathway to Hope on their way to the gift shop or parking lot. Winding through the St. Jude campus, the pathway is composed of 14,000 bricks purchased by donors as a means of raising money for the hospital.
During their walks, Lily often stopped to ask her mom to read inscriptions on the bricks, which sometimes honor former patients, family members or loved ones. Soon, the inevitable happened.
“She said, ‘Mommy, I want a brick,’” her mom, Nichole, recalled. “She’s said it over and over again for at least the last six months.”
So, on a warm autumn day, right after her No More Chemo party, Lily got her brick — or at least a replica of what her brick will look like.
Lily’s parents made a donation of $1,000 to St. Jude to honor their daughter with the 4 ½ - by 9-inch block of masonry, which will be installed on the Pathway to Hope in May 2020.
“It was a very expensive brick," Nichole said. “But I’m like, if this means so much to her, she deserves it, St. Jude definitely deserves the money, and we’re honored to give it to her and honored to donate.”
The inscription on Lily’s brick honors her as a “brave survivor,” a truth to which Nichole can attest. Through numerous life-threatening and painful episodes during treatment, her daughter maintained her bubbly, fearless spirit. “She helped me survive her cancer,” Nichole said.