Did you know?
Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from people like you, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation. (That means your donation, no matter what the size, will help!)
St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90% by 2020.
St. Jude won't stop until no child dies of cancer, and neither will I. Will you join me and be a Hero, too?
Thank you for your help.
Here's how St Jude affected me personally...
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both. And be one traveler long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent into the undergrowth...Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. It's my most favorite piece of literature. The idea of taking your own path in life and not following the easy route. It's beautiful. But what if the road you ended up on was not the road you chose or wanted? What do you do? I faced this question unexpectedly and was bewildered by it for some time before I was able to know the answer.
When my nephew Quincy was diagnosed with cancer, I was in complete denial of the path that lay before me and my family. I knew deep in my soul the role I was supposed to play for my sister and her family. I was to be the rock and a source of knowledge because of my background in healthcare. But I wasn't and I couldn't. When I look back now I can understand my response. I was scared. I was sad. I knew what the diagnosis meant. So instead of being who I should have been, I ran...hard and fast in the other direction. Cowardly? Yeah, as a matter of fact, it was but it was my natural instinct of self-preservation that I had developed and nurtured from some very scary previous life experiences. The guilt is overwhelming to this day and it is something I will hold on to for the rest of my life so that I can make it a perpetual learning experience.
However, in 2007, my perspective of Quincy's dire situation and my sister's overwhelming need for comfort slapped me in the forehead with the birth of my son Deacon. There was a time in his nursery, in the quiet dark of the middle of the night, that I held my son so fiercely to me and cried the tears of years of guilt, sadness, and loss. I cried for the loss of time I could not get back, and the time I chose, in those silent moments, to not waste anymore. Brave, you say? Nah, maturity at last! Oh the gift of adulthood and motherhood! So the decision was made....I had to move home. I had this indescribable pull towards sister Leigh Ann. At times I felt as though I could not breath around it. So finally, in 2009, I was able to move into a house that was only about a block from my sister and her family. Once I was settled in, I felt like the beast that threatened smother me with emotion was quieted. I tried to spend as much time as I could with my family. Quincy's disease kept my sister's family on the road most of the time. But Leigh Ann and I managed to forge an unbreakable bond and so did our sons. Some of my favorite memories of Quincy are times he and Deacon were together. I remember when Deacon was just learning to walk. Quincy would walk behind him with his hands out. He would say, "Sissy, are you sure he can walk ok? I don't want him to fall and hit his head."
Then in June of 2010, things took an unexpected turn for the worst. Quincy suddenly developed a wound after a bone marrow biopsy. He had never had this problem before. He was, of course, admitted to St. Jude. But the doctors seem stumped by it and were unsure about the best way to approach treatment for the wound and for Quincy, for that matter. I distinctly remember the day my sister sent me a picture of his wound after they had been inpatient for a couple of weeks. Holy cow! I was shocked into silence. When they had left to be admitted, it was the size of a bug bite. It was suddenly taking up his entire flank. I remember holding my phone and staring at the image. My son came to me and patted me on the leg and said "Mama, what's wrong?" I was so stunned that I didn't even know I was crying. And suddenly that drive of self-preservation hit me again. "Run," it said. "Run now!" But the soulmate-like bond I had made with my sister said, "NO." As I sat on the couch, letting the internal battle of wills rage on, I discovered a new and very frightening question. How do you tell your sister, the other half of your soul, that her baby is going to die? Oh dear God in heaven! Please tell me what to do! Then I realized the answer as if it was plucked out of the air. You don't, Stephannie, you don't. Why? Well, because she is, after all, the other half of your soul. And what is your soul telling you.....she already knows. So I did what I should have done years ago. I was her rock. I was her source of knowledge. And I was Quincy's advocate for palliative care. I was the not only the sister I was supposed to be all along, but I was also the nurse I was supposed to be. I always wondered why the birth of my niece Melody had so clearly moved me to be a nurse. Now I know. Somewhere in that angelic face surrounded by a firey red lion's mane of hair, newborn baby Melody knew that her family would need me to fill a role that no one else could. I could do it because I am strong. I am honest. I am no nonsense. And I love my family.
Quincy came home in August on hospice, after three months of inpatient days. The days leading to his passing are some of the most memorable days of my life. I got to make cookies with Quincy. We dyed the icing all different colors. We had so much fun. And when the end was drawing near, I was able to tell him how much I loved him. Quincy died on a bright and sunny day at the end of August. The news of his passing whispered of over the entire country to all the friends he'd made on his journey. I learned from Quincy that sometimes the road you don't want to travel will lead you to who you are. It will lead you to a place you've never been. And on that trip you can discover things about yourself that you never knew and be better for it.
Then took the other, just as fair,
And perhaps having a better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear.
Though as for that passing there,
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.