Today on a training run I got tired and started walking. I started running again when I thought about my friends I've lost, Carson Head, Luis Enrique Aguilar Santos, and Hannah Tate and the courageous and steadfast fight they had with cancer.
I run for my fellow patients that have have lost the fight with cancer or, like me, continue to battle every day. I completed 31 months of treatment in Feb 2017 after over 1,000 doses of chemo. I continue to have remission checks every 4 months. I am determined to run the Half Marathon the December in honor of my friends at St. Jude.
On July 29th, 2014, I was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) after enjoying the best summer of my life, which included a pilgrimage to Germany, a trip with just my sister (Skyler), working at an all day summer camp, and completing the Olympic white water rafting section of the Ocoee river (two days before my diagnosis). I came in to St. Jude with a white blood count of over 400,000, with the normal range being about 10,000 to 12,000. While I was in the ICU for the first time, doctors were amazed that I had the strength to participate in all the trips and events that I enjoyed prior to diagnosis. In the past nine months, the daily chemo that I have recieved as brought numerous side effects including a stricture in my throat which required two surgeries to fix, an unexpected air bubble (pneumomediastinum) that formed in between my heart and asophagus, nueropothy in my legs, and most notably, pancreatitis. Having been the first ALL patient ever to indure pancreatitis so early on in my treatment, I was taken off protocol by my doctor and received a special chemo every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This has raised my medical bill to over $3 million dollars, with the usual treatment for ALL being around $500,000.
"St. Jude values life at all costs, with no cost to the patients."
I have realized that without St. Jude and the huge progress this research hospital has made in the treatment of all childhood cancers, I would not be alive. I will be forever grateful for the hospital that never questioned costs and saved my life.
This year I run in honor of my fellow patients especially:
Luis Enrique Aguilar Santos