One out of every five children diagnosed with cancer will not survive.
They won’t make it to high school graduation, to walk down the aisle for a wedding, or go on to have their own children.
Sure, the odds have shifted in a massive way since St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was created. Back then, in 1962, the survival rate was just one in four. Now, it’s 80%. Four out of five children diagnosed with cancer will make it.
But that still means one in five won’t.
Mary Elizabeth didn’t. She went to elementary school with my daughter.
Despite everything her family did, despite everything her doctors did, despite everything St. Jude did, this precious 12 year old is gone.
One in five is way too many lives to lose. Way too many hearts broken.
And one in five is still too many deaths for the doctors and researchers at St. Jude.
They’re working to drive the survival rate up to 90% in the next decade. But even then, if you love that one child in ten who loses their fight, you’ll agree, one in ten is too many, as well.
So the battle cry for St. Jude is this: We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
After spending the past few days seeing exactly what goes on at St. Jude, it’s clear that miracles are happening in this hospital. St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, but it’s clear, this fight is anything but.
Researchers are on the verge of cures that may not just cure childhood diseases, but other diseases, too, that impact adults…diseases like ALS.
Doctors are saving children in the meantime.
Families are being cared for, along with their child in the thick of the fight.
Good things are happening at St. Jude. Great things.
These children are little warriors…with big fight.
Yet, there are children who won’t see a cure.
So, the work continues.
Children from all over the world are treated at St. Jude, by doctors from all over the world. To be treated at St. Jude, you must be referred by a physician, be 18 or younger, and under one of the protocols being researched and/or treated by St. Jude.
St. Jude covers all of the costs for families—not just medical care, but travel, housing, even food for the family—so it’s critical to keep those funds covered for the hospital. The founders believed “all a family should worry about is helping their child live.” But someone has to cover these costs.
St. Jude spends an average of $500,000 for each child’s care (for acute lymphoblastic leukemia—the most common form of childhood cancer) and St. Jude sees an average of about 7800 patients a year. 75% of the funds to operate the hospital comes from generous donors, with 83 cents of each dollar donated.
St. Jude gets a big chunk of funding from corporate sponsors…more than 70 companies like KMart, BestBuy, Target, Chili’s, and Kay Jewelers, but the hospital also counts on individuals—people like you and me—to contribute.
There are tens of thousands of events organized each year to help raise the money needed to keep up the fight, from the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer events this September, to the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign, an annual campaign centered around the holidays. The theme for that hits the message home: “Give. To help more kids live.”
Those events are a huge help when it comes to raising funds. In this case, a little bit can go a long way.
Each contribution is like a gift of hope. And hope is everything.
You can be part of an event. Or, offer a donation. It doesn’t have to be huge. In fact, the average donation is just $30 a person. But, combine that with a lot of other people, and it’s all taken care of.
This is not the only hospital caring for children with cancer, but St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital invests more funding into pediatric cancer research than any other institution, including the federal government.
Also, St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, which means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.
Despite all this work, and all the advancements, more needs to be done. More research. More care. And more money needs to be raised.
Because one in five children diagnosed with cancer in the US will still die from the disease.
One in five.
Just losing the sweet Mary Elizabeth is one too many.
So the mission is very clear: we can’t stop until no child dies from cancer.