Since I am hosting a virtual run/walk called the Platinum Sombrero 5K with funds raised being donated to St. Jude, and nearly half of all the races that I have run in during my lifetime has donated money to St. Jude, I decided to do a blog post dedicated to St. Jude. I am fairly certain that everyone has heard of St. Jude in this day and age, but I still wanted to share some numbers and information about the hospital.
St. Jude was opened February 4, 1962 by Danny Thomas as a fulfillment of a promise. While a struggling actor, Danny Thomas prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus for help. St. Jude was the patron saint of hopeless causes, and Danny Thomas promised the saint “help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.” From this request, the idea for the children’s hospital was born. Thomas worked through the 1950’s, gaining support in the Memphis and Arabic American communities, to fund this magnificent hospital.
From the beginning, St. Jude showed significant strides in healing childhood cancers and disease. In 1965, the first immunologic method to diagnose solid tumors in children was developed at St. Jude. In 1966, the first patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) to ever be taken off therapy were St. Jude patients. And within seven years, the survival rate for ALL soared past 50%. 1984 saw the first patient with sickle cell disease to be cured with a bone marrow transplant. This patient was at St. Jude. These stories go on and on, but if you want to read the entire history, visit here.
The following are some staggering facts and figures about St. Jude:
- St. Jude treats over 7,800 patients a year
- There are 78 inpatient beds at St. Jude & 260 patients are seen daily
- No family pays a dime out of pocket for services at St. Jude
- Daily operating cost of St. Jude is $1.8 million
- St. Jude has helped push childhood cancers survival rates from less than 20% when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80% today
- $.81 of every dollar donated in the last 5 years has gone to treatment & research
- St. Jude campus now has 2.5 million square feet
- 1996, Peter Doherty, PhD, of the Department of Immunology awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
- There are 6 affiliate St. Jude hospitals in Peoria, IL, Johnson City, TN, Shreveport, LA, Baton Rouge, LA, Huntsville, AL, & Springfield, IL
- St. Jude is 100% financially transparent and I am going to be there with my fundraiser.
I have never been a patient at St. Jude, and odds are, many of you reading this have not been either. But, that does not mean cancer has not been an obstacle in your family. My grandfather had cancer for roughly four years before finally succumbing to it. I remember watching him getting his treatments and the pain that it caused a once strong man. I remember watching him literally wither away in front of my eyes. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me, and probably will always be the worst thing that ever happened to me. A year after my grandfather passed, my best friend was diagnosed with ALL. My thinking was great, cancer is going to take another person from me because I had no clue that cancer could truly be cured. I had never seen any evidence of this. But through outpatient treatment at St. Jude, my friend Philip was cured. And as I have gotten older, and done some research, I now realize that the treatments that prolonged my grandfathers life, and the ones that saved Philip’s life would be non-existent without St. Jude. I had no clue the type of innovations being made at St. Jude, nor did I realize that their research could lead innovations in treatment for cancer in adults. For these reasons, and many more, I will be a lifelong supporter of St. Jude, and that is why I am raising money for St. Jude today.