Sunday, November 23, 2014

St. Jude

From TX, I head to Memphis to visit my friend Julie.  I saw her back in July when we went to Graceland and BBQ, but that was a girls' weekend because her boys were out of town.  This time I got to see the boys....and they were pretty excited to see me :).  Some kids are shy, some are not.  The 'Meyer Monsters' were not, lol.  They are little gymnasts in the making I think.  I think Ryan is turning 3 soon, which means maybe Ian is turning 5 soon. (apologies, I'm not good with ages, but that's about right)  I'm heading back at the beginning of December for the St. Jude marathon - friends are running, not me! I'll be a cheerleader for the day. 

Julie's son Ryan has been receiving treatment at St. Jude and her family and friends have become very involved.  She now works there and helped arrange a tour of the facilities for me.  So I got into town Monday night, played with the boys and then had some great ribs and coleslaw that Julie's mom had prepared.  Tuesday I slept in a little and then met Julie for lunch and my tour started at 1.  It's a facility that does amazing things. They are focused on caring for children, especially those with cases that add new challenges.  A patient must be referred to St. Jude, such as if they have a cancer where there is no current protocol for treatment, but then St. Jude pretty much accepts all patients under an age limit (I think 18, but in special cases maybe 19 or 20).  The families don't see any bills.  It's all taken care of.  They have housing on or near campus for families to use as short term or, as in Ryan's case, longer term.  They do look at some diseases other than cancer as well.  I'm blanking on some of the facts now, but I know the operations were impressive.  They try to make the hospital a happy place, lots of bright colors and art work, fun activities to do while you wait.  They also have a team of doctors set up for you that see you through your treatment - so you're always meeting with the same physician who is familiar with your case. They have little red wagons, so the kids can be pulled around the hospital.  You see the patients in the waiting rooms and at lunch while you're on the tour. You see the artwork that tells the kids' stories. I don't know how all those parents do it.

After my tour, I walked the campus a little and read my book. When Julie was off work, we headed to Target House.  It just so happened that it was the birthday (15th) of Target House.  Target House is one of the long term residences available to patients and it is where Julie and Ryan stayed during the main portion of his treatment.  It is sponsored by Target and is a great complex.  They invite past and present residents, so we met the boys and grandma there.  They provided a meal and had some leaders of Target, St. Jude and the Target House speak. The male portion of Sugarland was there to perform a couple songs. There was a silly string war that was crazy. And of course cake for everyone.

Each night I read the boys a couple stories before bedtime. They were already ready for Christmas books before Halloween :). 

It was a great couple of days seeing them and I look forward to the visit in December :). If you'd like to donate to St. Jude in support of my friend who is running the marathon, here is the link. 

Some art on display from patients:

Danny Thomas was the founder of St. Jude in 1960.  I don't know if I'll get the story right, but there is supposedly a gold coin buried in/under this statue of St. Jude. When starting the hospital a little boy came forward with his gold coin and wanted to donate it towards the effort.

Danny Thomas prayed to St. Jude and the church for assistance during his life, when he was about to have his first child and before his career really took off.  St. Jude Hospital is essentially the result of those promises/prayers where Danny made good on his word.

Me and my elephants :)
Ethan is one of the 'mascots' of St. Jude.

 A sculpture of kids with reference to Peoria, IL and the run between Memphis and Peoria that occurs each year to raise funds.

Silly string war!

Ian loved it! Ryan did not :)

And of course, the birthday cake!!

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