Morganfield, KY Cancer Survivor Shares How St. Jude Saved Her Life
It was 1975. Holly Jackson was just 7-years-old and she wasn't feeling well. Her parents thought she had the flu. That's what her symptoms were like anyway. The only problem? Those symptoms just weren't going away.
She was ultimately diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, which was then and is still now the most common form of childhood cancer. In the mid 70s, the survival rate was a mere 40% and Holly embarked on a five-year chemotherapy protocol. Every two weeks, she was given IV treatment at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan (where she and her parents lived) and she had a bone marrow biopsy every month.
The following year, Halloween of 1976, Holly was having cold-like symptoms. Her parents let her go trick-or-treating, but only to see the neighbors on both sides of the house. After that, she was getting worse. Quickly.
At the hospital, Holly was diagnosed with pneumonia- a new strain of it that was affecting immuno-compromised children and, in some cases, claiming their lives. Over the next 24 hours, Holly had fallen gravely ill. One of her lungs collapsed and she was struggling to breathe. Afraid that Holly wouldn't make it through the night, her team of physicians called St. Jude to get some guidance. St. Jude had developed a medication that was proving highly effective in treating young cancer patients who were battling pneumonia. Knowing there was no time to wait, St. Jude air-flighted the medication to Michigan immediately.
Holly's dad drove to the airport to get it. As Holly explains, back then, policies and procedures at airports were incredibly relaxed. So, her dad was basically able to just go there and wait. No questions asked. In fact, he arrived at the hospital before the medicine did. He picked up the meds and immediately headed back to the hospital.
That medicine worked. Quickly. Holly explains, "They began an IV drip of the medication and my mom said that the next day I was sitting up and eating. She said it was an absolute miracle."
Because of St. Jude, Holly eventually experienced another miracle. She was always told that she wouldn't be able to have children because the chemotherapy protocol was known to greatly decreases egg count and damage ovaries. But, she once again defied the odds. Today, she's mom to Bryson, whom she calls her "little miracle baby."
Holly joined us here at the WBKR St. Jude Radiothon because she knows the power of the place. She says, "St Jude is amazing fbecause they are everywhere. I was not being treated by St Jude at their hospital, but their outreach and willingness to share their knowledge and developments saved my life…and so many others at the hospital where I was treated."
By the way, the survival rate for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is no longer 40%. It's currently 94% and that's because of the incredible life-saving research being done at St. Jude in Memphis.
If you'd like to join the St. Jude mission and family, you can become a St. Jude Partner in Hope. It's $19 a month on a credit or debit card. To become a Partner, simply call 1-800-201-8883.
All St. Jude Partners will receive this incredible Love Music Stop Cancer t-shirt.
Here's Holly's story in her own words from today's Radiothon appearance: