Sunday, April 3, 2016

St. Jude Visit


I recently had the pleasure of spending the day at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. It was a truly a life changing experience for me and one I will never forget. I was greeted by Mrs. Sarah Wright, Sr. Specialist of Youth Development Programs for St. Jude and she was an amazing hostess.

Me with Mrs. Sarah Wright, my hostess for the day

My favorite part of the day was the Meet and Greet where I was able to spend one on one time with the patients and their families. It was such an amazing experience to see how strong the children are as they face such a scary time in their lives and they were such an inspiration to me. "Your child has cancer." No words strike more fear into a parent's heart, but all of the parents were so upbeat and encouraging for their children and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to witness those moments. They have forever changed me.




Following the Meet and Greet, I was given a tour of the hospital. My amazing tour guide, Mrs. Amy Stack, took me to every part of the hospital and explained what happens in each department. She began the tour with the history of how the hospital came to be and it reassured my faith in God and that everything happens for a reason. Unsure of his life’s direction, a young Danny Thomas sought guidance from St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. If the saint would point to the path he should take, Danny vowed to build a shrine in his name, and boy did he ever! He would build a haven for the helpless. A place of compassion that would treat children regardless of race, color, creed or their family's ability to pay. Danny Thomas officially opened St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on February 4, 1962, with the unveiling of the statue of St. Jude Thaddeus. The hospital celebrated the 54th anniversary of it’s opening the day before my visit.

Me with statue of St. Jude Thaddeus

Me with my amazing tour guide, Amy Stack and her assistant, Lauren Price

In the early 1960s, being diagnosed with childhood cancer meant almost certain death. The overall survival rate was less than 20%; for the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), it was 4%. I was so happy to learn that childhood leukemia now has a 94% survival rate. It is so exciting! Unbelievable advancements have been made in all areas of cancer research and it is all shared freely worldwide with other institutions which is awe inspiring. The true measure of success will be the hospital’s ability to give children the lives they deserve: that first step, first day of school, first date, first job. A lifetime of everyday moments. That is the legacy of St. Jude.

“Nothing is Impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible.” – Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International

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