The real cost of Pediatric CANCER

How St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is helping families

Cancer sucks. We all know this. But we always think of the medical reasons cancer sucks, there is another reason cancer sucks and it’s the cost of treatment. When my son got diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in 2012 we were lucky enough to have insurance, yet even with a tip insurance company we still ended up with a lot of credit card debt paying for deductibles from his treatments. From simple checkup visits and blood work to MIBG Scan and surgeries. The one thing is clear is that money is the least of the worries when we deal with cancer, yet is a clear impediment or aid in the treatment of the disease. The most beautiful thing about St. Jude is that families don’t have to worry about spending a dime on treatment.

This is part of the alphabet displayed at St. Jude made by the patients.
This is part of the alphabet displayed at St. Jude made by the patients.

The idea of free treatment goes beyond monetary. St. Jude understands that families should only focus on treatment, on spending quality time together and be able to receive the best treatment, without having to worry about how to pay for that treatment. The relief a parent feels when he knows that there is something that he doesn’t have to worry about. That it doesn’t matter what the child needs, St. Jude will be there to give it, without expecting anything in return.

The cost of cancer is beyond what people think. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. And those are just the treatments that the child NEEDS. Not even optional or supplemental treatments. In our case, although we had insurance, the insurance didn’t cover the anesthesia for the MRI. My sons treatment consisted of MRI’s every month, for the first year. Because he was under 2 years old and the MRI was of his torso, he had to be sedated every single time. Every MRI was around $2,000+ just for the Diprivan (propofol). Imagine having to pay that on top of the MRI co-pay (if you have insurance) or the whole MRI? And then the bone scan, and bone marrow test, and chemo, or radiation. All the blood work required at EVERY SINGLE VISIT!

I can keep going on and on, but I think you got the picture. St. Jude is definitely a hero not only for the patients and their treatment but also their families. It eliminates such a burden. And this is why you and me are so important. All those donations you see St. Jude asking for? All the stores, restaurants, teams that partner up with St. Jude? The St. Jude Walk or Marathon? All those events, all those donations, go straight to those families. And I should also add, those donations don’t only help cover the cost of treatment for the patient, they also feed the families and help pay for housing and transportation and even education.

Last year at the NYC walk

Although we just welcomed the month of August, we don’t have to wait until September to do something to help these children and St. Jude to continue their mission. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and also the St. Jude Walk. You can sign up and participate in your city, or just make a small donation.

If you want more information on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and their mission you can visit their webpage here.

I am a proud St. Jude Blogger Ambassador.  


St. Jude & National Cancer Survivors Day

St. Jude

You think St. Jude is just another hospital for children? YOU ARE WRONG. There are many things that make St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital one of a kind. For starters this is no ordinary hospital. This is the top pediatric cancer facility in the World. Not only do they treat children with pediatric cancer, they also conduct research, including research for ALS, and they share this research with other hospitals. This has helped increased the survivor rate to more than 80%.*

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Today is National Cancer Survivors Day and it made me think of all the children who got a second chance of life thanks to St. Jude. So how does St. Jude do it? First and foremost, St. Jude treats patients free of cost. This means that even families who can’t afford cancer treatment can receive treatment at St. Jude, this alone increases that child’s rate of survival. St. Jude takes pride in being able to provide top care, because children matter. As a mom who has paid for cancer treatment I can tell you St. Jude is doing something AMAZING, for the families. The monetary burden of cancer can be detrimental to treatment, by alleviating this burden families and patients can focus on the positive and strive while under treatment.

But aside from the research and free treatment St. Jude also stands out because of their facilities. I was blown away during out visit last year. From their long-term housing to the cafeteria, with incredible dining, to the classrooms, St. Jude doesn’t cut corners when it comes to being on top. They really pay attention to every details to make the children’s stay the most comfortable stay possible under the circumstances. A quick example is the little wagons used for transportation. This makes kids more comfortable than a wheel chair or a hospital bed. Catering meals under special circumstances in another way that they aim to please the children under their care.

One of the waiting rooms
One of the waiting rooms

Today made me remember our tour guide Taide. She was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 7 years old, She fought cancer at St. Jude until she was 13. Now she says she works for St. Jude to repay what they gave her. She lives thanks to the hospital, and she’s not the only one. Like her there are many children, all over the world, who benefit from the research findings at the hospital.

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St. Jude is a special place. There is no other place where children are so well taken care of for nothing. All St. Jude wants to do is give these children and all children battling pediatric cancer a chance to be a survivor. I encourage you to donate to St. Jude. Your donation can mean another day to a child. Donate here.

Today I want to celebrate all survivors but of course, I celebrate my special survivor, Glenn. May you continue to live every day to the fullest!


*Statement from St. Jude webpage. I am proud to be a St. Jude Blogger Ambassador. All opinions are my own. 

St. Jude Target House

During our trip to St. Jude, we had the opportunity to tour the St. Jude Target House. The St. Jude Target House are the long-term residence of families who are receiving treatment at St. Jude. The houses are 2 beautiful buildings that can accommodate 98 families. Not only does it provide the families with a beautiful furnished apartment with everything they need, but the buildings also have craft rooms, play rooms, music room, playground, yard, laundry, and other amenities like transportation.


This houses are sponsored by Target, which is why they are called St. Jude Target House. Target also furnished the apartments and even provided shopping carts so that families can have an easier time carrying their groceries from the car to the apartment. We not only toured the apartment building, we also had the chance to check out one of the apartments. This is the most beautiful apartment. They took care of everything detail. The apartment has 2 bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, kitchen with dinning area. They have televisions, gaming system and every pot and pan that they could possibly need. The apartment also has a safe for family valuables. Unlike a hotel, where room service comes and cleans everyday, the families that stay at the St. Jude Target House have full control of their environment in their apartments. The idea behind this is that they feel the most at home. In turn making the treatment a bit more tolerable for the whole family.


The tour of the property opened my eyes in so many ways. I already knew that St. Jude took care of their patients and families, but I had no idea that they were also providing these beautiful living conditions to families. They really went the extra mile, even with the help of celebrities! Some celebrities and athletes donated some of their pieces to the common rooms, and those common rooms are mirrored after their own rooms at home. Some of the rooms include Amy Grants Music Room and Tiger Woods Pavilion.

This is one of the reasons donating is so important. Not only does St. Jude just treat patients medically, they are also taking care of their way of life. They are providing something that no one else has provided a comfortable living environment where the families can feel at home. I should mention St. Jude also works with Ronald McDonald House and some of the families stay there, but it’s more short-term. Could you imagine the possibilities if the hospital has more capital!?


There are different ways you can contribute to the St. Jude cause and to the patients. One of them is by participating in the St. Jude Rock n Roll Nashville Marathon & 1/2 Marathon. If you are not near Nashville to make it to the marathon, you can make a donation to a team. There are tons of other ways you can help the children of St. Jude. If you would like more information please visit the St. Jude website here.



I am posting as a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Ambassador. All opinions and pictures are my own. Thank you to St. Jude for hosting. 



Giving Tuesday & Thanks and Giving Season

Is not just a day, it’s a movement

“Giving Tuesday was created to unite us all in a day of generosity, to make a difference in the world any way we choose at the start of this busy holiday season.”

If you didn’t know today is Giving Tuesday. It’s alway the first Tuesday after thanksgiving and really is a day to give love and hope to anyone. Every year St Jude has the biggest giving campaigns EVER. Not only can you get items straight through the St. Jude website, but you can also buy items from tons of retailers around the country, where portions of the sales go to St. Jude. The biggest retailer is Kmart. They have raised over $76.7 million dollars for St. Jude. This Holiday Season they have new products including the Giving Hat. The hat is a simple way to make someone laugh and also contributing to helping kids at St. Jude. The Giving Hat is only $5 and $1 of every sale goes straight to St. Jude. Not only do they have the hat, they have beautiful ornaments that you can buy to contribute to the children of St. Jude.

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Some of the other amazing retailers include The Limited, Brooks Brothers and Crazy 8. There are also many food chains that donate proceeds to St. Jude. Including Domino’s, Wendy’s and Chilli’s.



I am posting as a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Ambassador. I was sent a Giving Hat. 



Chopping it up for Cancer

I love my hair. It’s been my obsession my whole life. I have had short hair multiple times in my life for various reasons and hated it. I finally got it to the length I’ve always wanted. Almost down to my waist. When I visited St. Jude in September I mentally made the decision to cut my hair and donated for wigs. The minimum donations for a full wig is 10 inches. But with crazy life I couldn’t find time in September or October to take time to go to the salon and get it cut. I also had to find a place that either sent donations of hair or would let me bring my hair home in a braid.

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Yesterday I finally did it. I thought I was going to cry and as soon as I felt the tears coming, I thought of a girl I was able to met during that visit. Her strength made me feel so silly. I was about to cry for hair! I should know better! The reason I haven’t even cut my son’s hair is because of cancer. So here I am being a baby about the stupidest thing. So, I closed my eyes and did it!

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10 inches plus cut off. I feel like a new person. I really do. And it makes me feel amazing that the hair off my head is going to a child who is battling cancer. For me, this is almost going full circle. Especially since this November marks the 3 year anniversary of my sons diagnosis and surgery.

I know this might seem so silly, but it’s a part of my life and it’s near and dear to my heart.


El comienzo de St. Jude

Es difícil explicar el impacto que tiene el hospital St. Jude no solo para los niños que reciben tratamiento, pero si no para toda la comunidad. Hay que saber un poco del estado de crisis durante los 1950’s y 60’s no solo en Estados Unidos, pero en especial en Memphis, Tennessee y por qué afecta la creación de este hospital tan especial. El hospital St. Jude nació en el 1962 como la visión realizada de Danny Thomas y lo que se convertiría en su legado de vida.

St. Jude, Cancer

Durante mi visita a St. Jude, visitamos el Museum de los Derechos Civiles (National Civil Rights Museum). Al principio no entendí por que nos llevaron a ese museo en particular, pero al tercer día cuando llegamos al museo, nos dimos cuenta por qué. El museo es en el Lorraine Motel, este es el motel donde Martin Luther King Jr. fue asesinado. La historia de la esclavitud y segregación me impactaron, pero no fue hasta que llegamos al momento de los derechos civiles y los 50-60 que entendí, por que nos llevaron a ese museo. Durante la marcha de Selma y el mensaje de MLK de “Yo Tengo un Sueno” fue que en realidad caí en cuenta que todo esto estaba pasando mientras Danny Thomas estaba tratando de abrir un hospital donde todos los niños serian tratados igual. Le pregunte a nuestra guia de St. Jude, si la visita había sido a propósito y efectivamente ella me confirmó que sí. ¿Por qué? Por que Danny Thomas estaba tan avanzado a su tiempo que su meta era que TODOS los niños serian tratados por igual, no importa cual era su color. Esto claramente, no era muy bienvenido para los negocios locales que todavía creían en la segregación de razas, por lo tanto Danny Thomas fue muy claro y dijo que si los negocios no trataban a sus niños por IGUAL, entonces el no les daría mas negocio.

National Civil Rights Museum

Al salir del museo me puse a pensar en todo lo que había visto durante el viaje y la realidad es que le tengo el mayor respeto a ese hombre. Crear este lugar donde no importa que color eres, cuando dinero tienes, de donde vienes ni que religión eres, los niños serian tratados igual. Esto es de sumo impacto considerando que era inaceptable durante los 60.

Martin Luther King

Lorraine Motel
El cuadrado en el piso es el lugar donde cayó MLK

La razón por la que comienzo mi serie de St. Jude con este mensaje es por que todo el mundo debe entender que St. Jude y Danny Thomas son más que cancer. Ellos significan igualdad y mas importante significan VIDA. Les recomiendo que si alguna vez están en Memphis o piensan visitar, pasen por St. Jude y por el National Civil Rights Museum, es una experiencia única en la vida. Estar en el mismo lugar donde nació St. Jude a la misma vez que el próser de los derechos civiles Martin Luther King fue asesinado es más que impactante, te marca para siempre.


Si quieres mas información sobre St. Jude o el museo puedes visitar sus páginas.

How St. Jude Stole my Heart

What do you do when St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital emails you and invites you for a blog tour? You read the email about 5 times making sure they got the right person, you call your husband hysterically and then you say yes. See, I’ve been familiar with St. Jude and it’s mission so this was not only exciting because it was a trip but because it was a trip that would have so much meaning and emotion that it makes it worth it. I had so much anxiety after saying yes. I was scared of leaving my children for 3 days, I was afraid of how emotional I was going to be in that environment, I was just a mess.

And when I arrived and saw Angela, one of the coordinators from our trip I couldn’t help but feel comforted and right at home. When we arrived at the hospital the first thing that catches your eye is the big St. Jude statue (just as a side note: St. Jude is not a religious hospital- but it’s founder, Danny Thomas was Catholic). The campus is beautifully manicured and it just feels like a peaceful, happy place.MEMPHISBefore I get into the details of our tour I want to give you some facts about St. Jude and their mission:

-Families never pay for any service at St. Jude. They’re hospital stay, housing, transportation and food are all paid for by St. Jude. Families are never billed or asked for money. The purpose for this is because families’ only focus should be helping their child stay alive.

-St. Jude is a research hospital and they are very open about their breakthroughs and share them with the medical community in order to save more children who might not be able to get treatment at St. Jude.

-One of the biggest accomplishments of St. Jude is that their treatments and research has helped increase the survival rate of children with cancer from 20% to more than 80% since 1962, when it opened. Their mission is to keep going until no child dies from cancer.

-St. Jude has been able to focus on what they deemed the most important in the quest for cancer cures because the funding comes from individual contributors, so the mission to save kids can keep going no matter what the financial situation is.

Now that you know more about St. Jude and their mission let me go through a quick run down of our trip:

DAY 1:

-We had lunch at the Kay Kafe. Kay Kafe is the only cafeteria in the hospital. The idea is that everyone should eat at the same place and interact like one community. Doctors, nurses, patients, guests, everyone is welcomed and are able to enjoy a huge variety of foods. They have everything from sushi to pizza, to rice and chicken. This is no ordinary cafeteria. Patients also have an option of getting meals catered to their special needs.

-We took a tour of the hospital. Our tour guide was Tayde. She has received treatment at St. Jude 3 times since she was a child, survived and now works for the hospital as a way to give back. She showed us all the different clinics as well as the school. I will dive more into the details about the physical tour of the hospital but the one thing I will let you know now is that there is no one bare wall in the whole hospital. All walls have something, art, paintings, boards.

MEMPHIS-Lab tour. I have to say I’m still speechless of my time at the lab. We learned soooo much and it’s incredibly uplifting to see the things that are happening in the research department.MEMPHISDAY 2:

-We toured the Target Houses. Target Houses are the long term housing for families that are in treatment for a longer period of time. They have 2 buildings with over 50- 2 bedroom apartments. Each apartment is equipt with everything the family might need. The buildings are absolutely stunning. From head to toe, the attention to detail is spectacular.MEMPHIS-Meetings. We met the nutritionist from the hospital, the Child Life Specialist, the Chef and we also met with a mom and her daughter Emma who is a patient at St. Jude. This was one of the most emotional, special moments during the whole tour, because it really showed us the side of St. Jude people don’t get to see.

-Carnival Event. We had the chance to take a peek into an event going on at the hospital. Carnival cruises was having a celebration for the kids and it was Dr. Seuss themed. They had music, food, activities for the kids. It was just a really cool time.

-Bass Pro Shop time. This is the biggest Bass Pro Shop in the whole country. I enjoyed going up to The Lookout because it gave one of the most beautiful views of St. Jude and downtown Memphis.

DAY 3:

-Brainstorming sessions. We went over the tour and what we enjoyed the most and try to come up with ideas to bring that message to you.

-National Civil Rights Museum. This was such an emotional trip, and to end it here took it to another level. I can’t even begin to tell you the impact this visit had on my heart and my life. It was without a doubt and special moment.MEMPHISAs you can see we did a lot. I will be writing a lot more about St. Jude and my time there. This place really has my heart. Everything they do for children and their families is beyond what any other institution does. They are truly angels for so many children. Thank you to St. Jude for hosting us and showing us closer look to who you are and what you stand for. So to put it all together, St. Jude will forever have my heart because anyone that does what they do for children deserve all the love and respect in the world.