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Day of Remembrance

Family Discussion Panel

Family Panel Discussion Session 1

 
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Family Panel Discussion Session 2

 
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Family Bios

Potrait of Betsy Fisher

Betsy Fisher

Betsy Fisher is a veteran high school social studies teacher. Most importantly, though, Betsy is “Marshal’s mom.”

In 2013, after two years of mentoring and fostering, Betsy and Marshal became “forever family” in Tallahassee. Marshal was 13 and had already faced many of life’s most difficult challenges from abandonment and neglect to childhood trauma and anxiety. He had already lived through 12 different placements and transitions when Betsy adopted him.

Their new bond of love and family would have to be even stronger when not even one year after adoption, Marshal was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.  A young man who could barely tolerate the constraints and triggers of blood pressure cuffs, Marshal would now face chemotherapy and an amputation of his right leg above the knee.

From 2014 to 2018, Marshal and Betsy spent time between UF Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, and their home in Tallahassee. When Marshal’s cancer metastasized to his lungs in 2016, the Fisher’s spent 6 months at St. Jude enrolling in two different clinical trials.  Marshal died in May of 2018, just three months before his 18th birthday, with his mom at his side.

Marshal loved art and exercising his creative spirit, he served as the school’s honorary assistant tennis coach, he enjoyed riding his recumbent bike and flying remote control planes. He loved all kinds of animals and insects and kept journals of drawings and notes on many.

Marshal had overcome so much in his 17 years. Betsy calls him her hero, and the bravest, most “resilient person” she has ever known. He touched so many lives and made so many friends. His unfiltered, silly, but kind and loving manner touched people everywhere he went. Marshal will forever be his mom’s “shiniest star.”


 

 
Portrait of Kimberly and John McKay

Kimberly and John McKay

In May of 2014, our youngest twin son Bryce was diagnosed with medulloblastoma.  He completed radiation and started chemo.  In October 2014, as Bryce started his second round of chemo, our oldest twin son, Alex, was also diagnosed with medulloblastoma.  Both were going through treatment at the same time.  

Bryce passed away in January of 2015 at the age of 8.  In June of 2015, Alex passed away at the age of 9.  Both were full of life and loved riding their four-wheeler and mini-bike.  Bryce loved shooting his BB gun, while Alex loved shooting his bow.  We miss them both dearly each day and are blessed by the lessons they taught us about life, the freedom in honesty and learning something new every day.


 

 
Portrait of Manny Rodriguez

Manny Rodriguez

My 7-year-old sister Arely was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a brain tumor, in December 2013. I was 14 at the time and in the 9th grade. After having a brain biopsy in Colorado, and being recommended to St. Jude, my parents drove Arely to Tennessee while my brother and I remained in Colorado in the care of my aunt. Arely was at St. Jude for six months but, sadly, her disease didn’t respond to treatment. Our family returned home in June 2014 after a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. She died at home on July 13, 2014.

Arely showed me what true unconditional love is. She was the sweetest child you could ever meet. She impacted and has continued to impact my life in a very dramatic way. I have become a better person because of her and have learned to truly cherish my relationships with friends and family.


 
 
Portrait of Kimberly Williams
Portrait of Emory Williams

Heather and Emory Williams

In January 2015, our 8-year-old son Eli was diagnosed with a brain tumor called medulloblastoma.  After receiving surgery at our home pediatric hospital, Eli experienced many complications, including posterior fossa syndrome that ultimately left him in a wheelchair and with multiple medical issues.

Due to his fragile medical condition, it was determined he needed to be treated at St. Jude. He received 6 weeks of radiation and 6 months of chemotherapy. In August 2016, Eli relapsed and began at-home chemotherapy under the care of St. Jude and pediatric hospice. Eli died on July 31, 2018 at the age of 11. Eli touched many in his short time on earth. He had a smile that would light up anyone’s day. Eli loved basketball, animals, and his family and friends, but his faith was the most important part of his life. He is our example to live life fully, with a perseverance that never gives up.


 

 
 

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