Perhaps the only thing scarier than your child having a rare form of cancer is not being able to get the treatment they need.
That’s what a family from Jamaica faced when their 2-year-old daughter, Azalea, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma.
“When we knew what she had, the only thing in our mind was we wanted to get her to St. Jude because we knew that would provide hope for us,” said her mother, Simone.
Her wish was granted just hours after doctors found Azalea’s soft tissue tumor.
They traveled from Jamaica to Memphis, where they lived on the St. Jude campus for a year.
“They (Tri Delta Place) has a big sign when you go in that says, ‘Welcome Home,’ and that’s what it feels like,” said Simone. “It’s a home away from home.”
Azalea first went through chemotherapy to shrink her tumor before an operation to remove it.
“The surgery that was actually done to correct her cancer was the first ever done in the United States,” said Simone.
It’s a breakthrough in research that Azalea’s oncologist will share with doctors everywhere.
“Azalea, for me, holds a special place in my heart,” said oncologist, Beth Stewart. “I see this really excited 3-year-old. I see the future.”
“I’m so happy because it goes way beyond her, and what was done with her is going to help so many others kids, not just in the United States, but all across the world,” said Simone.
Azalea is now healthy and full of energy again, but she’s still flown back to St Jude every 3 months for a checkup; in fact, doctors will continue follow-ups until she’s 21 years old.