Former St. Jude patient gives back

A former St. Jude patient now works at the place that helped her beat cancer.

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 7:31 PM

TUPELO, Miss (WTVA) -- Now is the time to get your ticket for the St. Jude Dream Home.

This year we want to set a record and raise one million dollars. 

All of the money raised will go to help end childhood cancer and save the lives of children around the world.

Kids like Liza who, at a young age, was diagnosed with a rare cancer.

"I've never had such pain in hearing such news. It was devastating," Ann, Liza's mother, said. 

As a parent, you never want to hear "your child has cancer."

But these words rang in Ann's ears as doctors told her that her little Liza had pleuropulmonary blastoma.

"A doctor came in and they told us that Liza had a very large mass in her right thoracic cavity and we would be transferred to st. Jude," Ann said. 

Liza was just two at the time.

"They found the tumor was very large. It was 100 percent of her right thoracic cavity and it was growing," Ann said. 

But Liza's condition was rare.

St. Jude doctors had only seen it once before.

"So there really wasn't a protocol to treat it until St. Jude came up with it. We re so lucky St. Jude can be so innovative with their patients and their treatments," Liza, St. Jude patient, said.

Liza's treatment included chemo and the removal of her right lung.

After nine months, the doctors told Liza she was cancer free.

But that surgery lead to scoliosis by the age of 12. 

"St. Jude knew that this was going to be an issue because I had that right lung removed so by the time I was about 12 or 13, it had already started to affect my already compromised breathing," Liza said. 

This meant another surgery.

The family went to Texas for that surgery but the procedure was considered experimental so insurance wouldn't pay for it.

And because of that the hospital wouldn t do it.

They turned to St. Jude again.

"I think mom got the call from Dr. Hudson and she said that St. Jude was going to cover that surgery, because once you're a patient there you re always a patient there," Liza said.

"They give all kinds of hope. They never let you give up," Ann said. 

Liza is now 29 years old and works for ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude.

She plans to attend nursing school in the fall to continue her efforts to give back.

And you can give back by reserving your ticket to the St. Jude Dream Home. Visit dreamhome.org or call 1-800-456-8351

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