Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

St. barely got by on what little

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is truly a hospital of miracles. They have saved countless children’s lives from cancer and continue to improve their treatments to be higher quality and have a higher chance of success. St. Jude strives to be the leading hospital in all pediatric cancer treatment, which is exactly where they stand (“Facts for Media”). Danny Thomas, the founder, had only one purpose in mind when he started his long journey with St. Jude: to end childhood cancer (“Danny Thomas”). It all started with Danny Thomas and his troubling career. Him and his family barely got by on what little he made. One day, they decided to go to church, something they had never done before. Danny ended up being so moved by the sermon that he placed his last seven dollars in the collection plate, leaving him penniless. After the realization of what he had done hit him, he prayed in desperation for a way to pay the impending hospital bills for his unborn child. The very next day, Danny was offered an acting job. It helped them get through a tough time, but he wanted to take his career to the next level. He prayed to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, to help him with his troubles. They then moved from Detroit to Chicago, where there were more career offers for Danny. His career took off in Chicago, and he soon became an internationally known entertainer (“Danny Thomas”).  In the early 1950’s, Danny promised that he’d build a shrine to St. Jude as a token of his appreciation. While him and a few others were debating on what it should be, the idea for a children’s hospital was suggested. After a lot of planning, Danny sat down with a group of Memphis businessmen in 1955 to talk about funding issues. They agreed to help his cause, and started working toward their goal, a hospital specializing in deadly diseases in children, immediately. The businessmen started many local fundraisers while Danny and his wife travelled across the United States sharing their idea and raising more money. Eventually they scrounged up enough to build the hospital, but the huge bills to keep the hospital open and running were a completely different story. Danny, who is of Lebanese descent, turned to the Arab-American community for help. They formed ALSAC, whose sole purpose is to raise money for St. Jude. They were a huge success. ALSAC is still the sole reason St. Jude is able to stay open, even with the steep two million dollars in daily costs. They raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year and, as a result, are the nation’s second largest healthcare charity with over a million volunteers (“Danny Thomas”).  Danny Thomas died on February 6th, 1991, only two days after celebrating St. Jude’s 29th anniversary alongside patients, parents, and employees. He was buried on hospital grounds in a family crypt at the Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion. His wife joined him in the Memorial Garden on July 12th, 2000, leaving their three children to fulfill their mission that they had worked so hard to begin. Danny will always be remembered through his memorials and through his legacy at St. Jude (“Danny Thomas”). There are many different kinds of cancers, some rarer than others. Leukemia, which is cancer of the blood, is the most common type of cancer in children. In the 1950’s, getting leukemia as a child meant certain death. Today, more than ninety percent of all children that get diagnosed with leukemia survive. Cancer also occurs in organs and tissues such as the lymph nodes (lymphoma), in the nervous system (brain tumors), and muscles, bones, and skin (solid tumors). In 1962, only one out of every five children diagnosed with cancer survived. Now, four out of every five children diagnosed will survive (St. Baldrick’s Foundation). St. Jude, being the dedicated hospital that it is, is always researching new ways to treat cancer and many other “hopeless” diseases. They focus on researching cancer, acquired and inherited immunodeficiencies, sickle cell disease, infectious diseases, and genetic disorders. Efforts are directed toward understanding molecular, genetic, and chemical bases of catastrophic diseases in children, identifying cures for such diseases, and promoting their prevention. Some more specific treatments that are currently being researched include gene therapy, bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, biochemistry of normal and cancerous cells, radiation treatment, blood diseases, resistance to therapy, viruses, hereditary diseases, influenza, pediatric AIDS, and the psychological effects of catastrophic illnesses. St. Jude also conducts long-term investigations of the outcomes of their patients, even after they become too old for a children’s hospital. All of the discoveries at St. Jude are always made public, so that hospitals around the world can utilize the same treatments and save thousands more children. St. Jude is also the only children’s research hospital to receive a National Cancer Institute cancer center support grant. The current research of St. Jude extends way beyond what is listed here, as they are always finding new things to research and old things to improve (“Facts for Media”). Through St. Jude, Danny Thomas has saved many lives. He fulfilled what he could of his dream and left his children to finish it. He powered through the rough patch in his career, planned and financed the construction of a hospital, and got to celebrate that hospital’s 29th anniversary before he passed. He started an amazing children’s research hospital, and his legacy will always live on in the lives of doctors, nurses, and any others who aid in the fight against pediatric cancer. 


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