When my son, Chance, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, St. Jude offered a way forward.

St. Jude gave us our Chance, literally and figuratively.

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Trish and her son Chance, who was treated at St. Jude for brain cancer

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Becoming a first-time mother in my 40s was a long-awaited dream come true. When my son was born, I named him Chance. I could not have predicted just how much he’d live up to the name.

Five days before he turned 5 years old, Chance was diagnosed with brain cancer.  

In the weeks leading up to his diagnosis, we had been to his pediatrician, a gastrointestinal specialist, and admitted to the hospital, all because Chance was vomiting every day. This little boy held a barf bucket in his lap for six weeks. The doctors were attentive, but Chance was getting no relief. My mind understood medical mysteries take time to solve, but my gut felt a sense of urgency that something serious was wrong.

Trish and her son Chance, who was treated at St. Jude for brain cancer

On the Fourth of July, Chance was feeling good for the first time in weeks so we attended a charity celebration with friends. Looking back at video from that day, I can see now that Chance was having balance issues. But in that moment, watching the fireworks with my happy boy, life was perfect. I went to sleep with thanks in my heart that we had turned a corner. 

The next morning, Chance woke up screaming. We rushed him to the emergency room and by 8:30 am, the life we had known was over. It was a tumor, a huge brain tumor. The next day, we learned it was medulloblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.

There are no words to describe what that feels like as a parent. I had dreamed of and hoped for and wanted this child for so long and, just like that, it appeared it was over. I had lived decades without him before he was born, but it felt I couldn’t live even minutes without him now. Five years with him wasn’t nearly enough. 

Trish and her son Chance, who was treated at St. Jude for brain cancer

Chance had an emergency brain surgery. Surgeries on this part of the brain can result in serious side effects, and this was the case with Chance. My brilliant child, who loved hiking and was always making up songs, lost his mobility and ability to speak. I thought it was the beginning of the end. Thankfully, we were referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® to join a clinical trial for this particular cancer.

At St. Jude, Chance received proton therapy to his brain and spine and months of chemotherapy. His care team showed him so much kindness and respect, and they extended the same regard to me. Although I’m just a mommy, these world-class experts valued the expertise I brought to the table regarding this individual child. We were no longer victims but warriors taking on a seemingly unstoppable foe, but we had the most experienced team on earth and, most importantly, we had hope. 

Trish and her son Chance, who was treated at St. Jude for brain cancer

I wish there was a way I could bottle that feeling, when you have hope. Hope is the greatest gift you can give a parent in this situation. That’s why it’s so important to me that St. Jude is a research hospital, and that we have had the opportunity to participate in that research. No matter what happens to us, we are going to be part of the solution for someone.

When we got to St. Jude, Chance could not walk, talk, swallow or hold his head up. Eleven months later, on the day before his 6th birthday, he walked out of there. He still uses a walker and struggles with tasks of everyday living, like buttoning his clothes, but he has grit unparalleled by any human I know. St. Jude gave him another shot at living and he's running with it. 

Trish and her son Chance, who was treated at St. Jude for brain cancer

Chance's determination is unfailing in the face of challenges, and so is St. Jude. These kids with cancer need a cure. Until there is a cure, they just need a chance. St. Jude gives them that chance.

When the love of your life has such difficult odds, the greatest gift anyone can give you is hope. That’s what St. Jude has given us. St. Jude gave us our Chance. 

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