An Inspiring Lunch with Marlo Thomas and a Family Thankful for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

photo (39).JPGAs we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, we got the chance to spend a very special lunch with the amazing Marlo Thomas and a family whose lives were forever changed as a result of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Thomas took time out of her busy schedule to talk about the tremendous strides that have been made at St. Jude. Founded by her father, legendary actor Danny Thomas, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital is at the forefront of discovering groundbreaking treatment that has helped prolong and save the lives of children battling terminal illness.
At the luncheon, we were introduced to Arianna, a beautiful eight year old girl who has been fighting a rare form of cancer for more than four years. We were all hanging on Arianna’s mom Leticia’s every word when she shared how she first found out her daughter had terminal cancer. At age 3, Arianna suffered a seizure that lasted 11 minutes. Soon after, doctors attempted to remove a tumor in Arianna’s brain and her parents were told their daughter would probably not live for more than a year. Determined to save her daughter, Leticia went online to read more about the disease that threatened to claim her life. While her doctor warned her not to read about her daughter’s tumor, she didn’t listen and it was a good thing she didn’t. While googling Arianna’s condition, she discovered the name of a doctor who had been treating children battling the same rare disease. She then discovered the doctor was affiliated with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the next day, her family was driving to Memphis to meet the doctor who could possibly save Arianna’s life. Within hours, Leticia was on the phone with the doctor and he made sure she was cleared to be admitted to the hospital.
Arianna has been a patient at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the last four years and while she has had several close calls, with the hospital’s cutting edge research (leading scientists are part of the St. Jude team), coupled with the attentiveness of the doctors, nurses and entire staff, she has survived and thrived. And this week, her family surprised her with a trip to New York City where she got the chance to ride the ferris wheel at Toys R’ Us along with her parents and her little sister.
Thomas also shared details about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s holiday fundraising initiative, Thanks and Giving which was featured this week on the Today Show. Created in 2004 by Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas — children of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas — the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign has grown into an annual holiday tradition thanks to tremendous public support. During St. Jude Thanks and Giving, many of America’s most respected companies make it easy for you to give thanks all season long.
What really impressed me about St. Jude is that they never turn anyone away. Families who are admitted to the hospital have all of their treatment covered without having to worry about whether their insurance company will approve a surgery or experimental medical treatment. The hospital spends over $850 million dollars per year devoting funds and resources to lifesaving research and technologies that prolongs and saves lives and hopefully, will one day put an end to childhood cancer. Families feel completely at home at St. Jude because it doesn’t look or smell like a traditional hospital. From the cozy and inviting Target House living arrangements, to the Kay Cafe (sponsored by Kay Jewelers), to therapeutic programs for siblings and parents, St. Jude is at the forefront of helping children in need of immediate medical treatment.
To find out how you can support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, you can donate here through their partners.