Carlos was a typical high school student, studying hard and active in many extracurricular activities, when he discovered a great way to relieve the stress and pressure of adolescence. He started running. It was the perfect outlet to help him relax, and kept him in great physical shape as he headed off to college. But it was while he was finishing his college career that the unthinkable happened, both putting halt on his studies and his running. The discovery of a lump in his knee and the biopsy after revealed Carlos had liposarcoma, a cancerous tumor of the soft tissue. His physician refereed him to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee for treatment, and immediately, Carlos and his family had hope.
“I saw a change in my mom when we learned we were coming to St. Jude,” explained Carlos. “She said, ‘We’re going to be OK.’ My mom had such an optimistic view of the work done here — just the idea of St. Jude brought her a sense of comfort that no other hospital would have brought.”
The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay. The kids who come to St. Jude are suffering from life-threatening childhood illnesses such as cancer and sickle cell disease, and many of our treatment protocols require care that can last for years. When St. Jude begins treating a patient, they take on the responsibility of ensuring that will complete that treatment and care for that patient for as long as they need us. It costs over $2 million a day to operate St. Jude, with 75% of the operating funds coming straight from public contributions.
It was that way with Carlos’ treatment, which entailed two surgeries and 35 radiation treatments. He said, “One of the hardest parts about undergoing treatment was going from running to being on crutches or in a wheelchair,” he said. But he was so determined to keep his life as normal as possible, he traveled between school and St. Jude for his radiation therapy treatment.
Carlos has completed his radiation treatments, is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Health Administration, and later this month he will take on another challenge. He will be running the St. Jude Rock ’N Roll Nashville Half Marathon as a St. Jude Hero. Grateful for the life saving treatment St. Jude was able to give him, Carlos is eager to give back and support a mission and cause that ultimately saved his life.
“There was not a day I came to St. Jude that the hospital didn’t put a smile on my face, regardless of what I was going through,” Carlos said. “And that’s something I really took away from the experience.”
If you would like more information on running, walking, or becoming a participant in an endurance event as a St. Jude Hero, visit fundraising.stjude.org.