We’ve all heard the radiothons, seen the commercials and heard the tearful tales associated with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I always sympathized, empathized and cried, but honestly…I never truly understood until now. Last weekend, I had the pleasure and blessing to attend the St. Jude Country Cares Seminar in Memphis. I had the privilege to walk through the doors of St. Jude and talk to patients, parents and doctors…and it changed my life.
Country music has had a long standing relationship with St. Jude, raising over $650 million. In reality, this is an amazing feat and tons of money. However, with an operating budget of over $2 million a day, it’s just a drop in the bucket for the fight against childhood cancer. Thankfully,with the continued help of generous people, St. Jude will eventually rend itself useless by curing themselves right out of a job.
I’ve always heard that St. Jude was more than just a hospital, but until I saw it for myself, I didn’t quite understand. St. Jude goes beyond not charging parents and patients for care, but they literally take care of every detail so families can concentrate on getting well. St. Jude takes care of treatments, food, shelter and transportation for patients. The hospital takes care of every single financial burden a family may endure while caring for a child with cancer.
While the numbers are impressive and the statistics prove progress is being made; what truly makes St. Jude remarkable is their attention to details in the small things. Teenagers enjoy a teen room where proms, graduations and time to “chill” are hosted. Teens fighting for their lives get to feel “normal” around other kids their age, celebrating milestones big and small with others who are just like them.
Children are carted to and from treatments in red wagons down brightly colored walls painted in murals of the seasons and walked through their procedures with a stuffed animal who help them walk through their treatments beforehand. Instead of fear and uncertainty, the halls of St. Jude are clothed in Faith, Hope and Love.
While most may think that the children would look back on the years spent fighting cancer with sadness in pain. However, most St. Jude patients look back on their journeys fondly. Many return to the hospital later in life to work as doctors, nurses, researches and more.
I can’t quite explain my journey this weekend. But I can tell you the overall feeling I left with is hope. Even the parents who told their stories of loss were full of hope and gratitude. Gratitude to have been a part of something like St. Jude. Something that will one day lead to the cure of childhood cancer. Every patient that walks through the front doors is part of the next patient’s journey via the research that’s collected and studied. With every patient, more is learned and treatments are improved ultimately leading to the cure rate going up.
The bottom line is…when your dollars (yes dollars) are given to St. Jude, they are spread around the globe via the knowledge shared. Because St. Jude isn’t part of the typical grant system, their discoveries are immediately spread across the globe with the ultimate goal of curing more children. What can be better than that?
There aren’t words or pictures that can really tell you how much my weekend at St. Jude meant to me. The only way one can truly understand is to walk through those doors yourself and take a tour, which I strongly urge you to do. In the mean time, there is no amount to small that will help children fight for their lives.
“They’d rather have a million people give $1 than one person give a million,” Brooke Eden.
You can see our photos from our weekend at St. Jude here.
Donate to St. Jude by clicking the button below to save the lives of children worldwide.