As the holidays of 2008 came and went, we noticed a change in Tess. Our sweet princess seemed to be tired, a little pale, and sporadically complaining of leg pain. We took her to our family doctor for a check up and blood work. Nothing was alarming, so we decided to wait and watch. Within a week, we could easily see that she was getting worse. Tess had several body scans and tests which kept coming back with no clear answer. Our family was sent to St. Jude in Peoria in January of 2009 where we were given life-changing news. Tess, 3 at the time, had a tumor in her adrenal gland and cancer cells in her bone marrow. She was diagnosed with stage 4, high-risk neuroblastoma. We were lucky enough to stay at the Midwest Affiliate in Peoria for her initial diagnosis and her first surgery. She had a week to recover and then we headed to Memphis. Tess was given a 20-30% prognosis at that time.
Between Memphis and Peoria, Tess faced 10 months of chemotherapy, a stem-cell harvest and transplant, several surgeries, 13 rounds of radiation and 6 month antibody therapy treatment. When we started the journey, the antibody was not available. Because of the on-going research happening at St. Jude, Tess’s prognosis jumped to 70%! Not only does St. Jude provide cutting edge medical treatment, they also provide HOPE. Without the care and love that every staff member showered on our entire family, hope would have been lost. St. Jude was able to care for Tess’s medical needs, our emotional needs, as well as our financial needs. St. Jude saved our daughter’s life.
Today, Tess is a healthy, happy 9 year old girl. She is in 4th grade and loves to play outside, shop, cook, and dreams to one day be an artist. This July, she will celebrate a milestone and earn a new title, “cured”.