On July 29, 2014, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. That same day, I received the first dose of the 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy treatments I need to save my life.
Cancer? How could I have cancer? I was experiencing the best summer of my life. In June 2014, I went on a spiritual pilgrimage to Germany with my youth group and traveled to Florida with my older sister, Skyler. In July, I toured colleges, hiked the hills of North Carolina, served as a counselor at Mud Camp, and rafted the level 5 Olympic Course on the Ocoee River. Sure, I had been tired, lost a little weight, and had a slight pain in my knuckles, but cancer? No way.
On the night I returned from the raft trip things began to change. The slight pain in my knuckles became massive throbbing in both hands. It was the worst pain I could ever imagine. I took some medicine and the pain was gone by the next morning. My Mom was concerned I might have arthritis so we went to the doctor and he decided to check my blood. A normal range for a white blood count is between 4,000 and 10,500. Mine was already at 350,000!!!
Within 24 hours, I went from a guy eating pizza and watching the sun set over the Mississippi River with a friend to a cancer patient receiving chemo in the ICU at St. Jude. My cancer was growing fast. There was no time to waste. Without the amazing advancements St. Jude has made since it first opened in 1962 in treating ALL, I wouldn’t be alive today.
Those first few months are a blur. The initial goal was to get me into remission. My medical team, led by Dr. Ching-Hon Pui, accomplished that within the first two months. Now I have completed 2 years of the 2 and 1/2 year chemo journey. I have had some really rough times, because of a lot side effects. One of the toughest challenges was the allergy I developed to the main drug I needed for cure. Dr. Pui decided to use an alternative drug at a dosage level and frequency that hadn’t been used before. I successfully endured 85 doses at a cost of almost $30k per dose totaling over $2.4 million. So far my treatment has cost almost $3,000,000. St. Jude saves all lives at any cost it takes with no cost to families.
Someone asked me once if I had ever wondered “Why me?” My family didn’t know it, but I had asked that to myself and God many times. About 10 months into this marathon of a journey in April 2015, I realized that I couldn’t just keep laying in the hospital bed getting chemo feeling so bad physically and mentally. I had met Rick Shadyac, ALSAC, CEO and asked him if we could talk. ALSAC is the fundraising organization for St. Jude. I had a business plan to create a fundraising group called Adam’s Army and wanted his advice. 90 minutes later, the plan to give back to the place that is saving my life brought me back to life was launched. I committed to raising $100,000 as part of my Senior Independent Study at St. George’s Independent School. Many people got on board with my vision and became Adam’s Army. So far we have raised almost $600,000! We plan to raise at least $1,000,000 by the time I will hear the words “you are cured” when I am 26.
Adam’s Army is much bigger than I can keep up with by myself now. Many people are carrying the vision to a whole new level. We are raising money and our primary goal is to raise awareness. Childhood cancer can and must end. I have said goodbye forever to my close friends Carson Head, Luis Aguilar and Hannah Tate. They have no voice now, but we do. I watched my little friends hurt and they can’t tell you how terrible this disease is, but I can with your help. Together we are the "Voice for the Voiceless".
I wasn’t afraid when I was diagnosed. Instead, I quickly learned how important it is to “MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT!” Every single one! Please join Adam’s Army so that we can give these kids, like myself, the chance to have days they can count and add them up until they have a nice long lifetime.
Our team wants to do more than run. We want to help run St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
We're fundraising while we train for our race so we can make a difference in the lives of kids with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
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.
Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90%, and they won't stop until no child dies from cancer.
Join us as we help run St. Jude!