Carley ColeMrs. CorbettAP Lit7 November 2011 St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital How many children are constantly suffering from the terrors of cancer today? Cancer willalways be a problem in society no matter how much research is funded. Danny Thomasrecognized this problem and elected to take action against the disease. Today, Thomas isfamously known as the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis,Tennessee, and has helped countless cancer patients since the 1960s. Danny Thomas was born on January 6, 1914 retaining the birth name of MuzyadYakhoob. Catholic immigrants from Lebanon, his parents Americanized his name from Yakhoobto Jacobs and Muzyad to Amos. After entering show business, he then changed his name onceagain to Danny Thomas. His hometown is located in Deerfield, Michigan; however, as a childthe family relocated everywhere from southeastern Michigan to northern Ohio. “The firstgeneration son of Lebanese immigrants, he absorbed much of his familys culture through hisclose-knit family, and would later use them as the back story for his famed TV sitcom”("Thomas, Danny"). Thomas’ father was a natural story teller and would fascinate the ninechildren with multiple stories and life lessons about his life as a peddler. Thomas brought thesestory telling characteristics with him as he began his promising career in show business. “Hequit school at age sixteen to become a professional entertainer, but his first professional
Cole 2experience was selling candy at a burlesque, or comedy, theater in Toledo, Ohio”(Matuz).Thomas began performing with one of his brothers in an act named “Songs, Dances, and HappyPatter”; however, his career started off bleak when he failed at becoming a professionalentertainer at such a young age. Nevertheless, at the age of twenty he was singing on the radio inDetroit, Michigan. At the early age of twenty two, Thomas married Rose Marie Cassaniti whoproduced three children. All three children, Marlo, Terre, and Tony, became successful in thetelevision industry. Beginning in the 1950s, Thomas gained accreditation in the world oftelevision. “He became one of the most successful television producers of the 1950s and1960s”(Griffith). Along with his acting career, Danny Thomas was also a famous producer ofshows such as The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gomer Pyle, and The ModSquad. Before his big break in television; however, Thomas was struggling to support hisfamily. "Learning that St. Jude was the patron saint of hopeless causes, Thomas prayed to thesaint, asking for direction. In return for the saints help, Thomas vowed to build a shrine for St.Jude” (Matuz). After his big break, Thomas soon funded the building of St. Judes ChildrensResearch Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis is a active location for cancer treatment and cancer research, and “Memphianspoint with pride to St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital, a premier research/treatment facilityfor children with catastrophic diseases, particularly pediatric cancers” ("Memphis: Health Care").The building officially opened its’ doors to patients on February 4, 1962 and has treated childrenfrom all fifty states since then. It is also the only pediatric cancer center to be selected as aComprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. “On average, 5,900 activepatients visit the hospital each year” (St. Jude Childrens). On an average day, the hospital willtreat 260. All research and discoveries made are liberally shared with cancer researchers and
Cole 3scientists worldwide. “The medical and scientific staff published more than 680 articles inacademic journals in 2010, more than any other pediatric cancer research center in the UnitedStates” (St. Jude Childrens). This institution is the first hospital designed specifically for clinicalresearch and treatment of childhood cancer. Families will never be denied treatment because ofcosts or insurance, and patients will never pay for a procedure not covered by their insurance.Since its’ opening in 1962, St. Judehas tripled the survival rate of children with certain cancers. Previously, a diagnosis of a cancer like Hodgkin lymphoma would have been a deathsentence. Even though cancer is still shocking and emotionally difficult to comprehend, the hopeof survival and successful treatment is significantly higher today because of St Jude. “In 1962,the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhoodcancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent” (St.Jude Childrens). Both Hodgkin lymphoma and Wilms tumor now have survival rates at 90%,and Medulloblastoma is at 85%. They have used a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, andsurgery to successfully treat cancer. Patients are usually referred by their doctor, or they musthave a disease that is currently under clinical research at St. Jude. "Because of remarkableprogress in therapy, long-term survival is expected for 80% of children and adolescentsdiagnosed with cancer. Infertility remains one of the most common and life-alteringcomplications experienced by adults treated for cancer during childhood” ("Study Data from").Despite its’ popularity gained from successful cancer treatments, St. Jude was the first to developa cure for sickle cell disease and is a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for studiesconcerning influenza viruses in different species. Since its’ establishment, St. Jude has gained immense prestige and has expandedmomentously. “Today it employs a staff of more than 3,300 and has a daily operation budget of
Cole 4$1.4 million” ("St. Jude Childrens"). The building was recently doubled in size when the Chili’sCare center was added to the campus, and now there is 2.5 million square feet of administrative,clinical, and research space. Over the years, the hospital has also gained respected staff membersand scientists including five members of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy ofSciences. “Peter C. Doherty, PhD, of the St. Jude Immunology department, won the Nobel Prizefor Physiology or Medicine in 1996” (St. Jude Childrens). Doherty’s discoveries led toinnovations in the treatment or viral infections, cancers, organ transplant procedures, andvaccines. St. Jude was also granted its first NCI Cancer Center Support grant in 1977 and hasbeen funded by NCI ever since. Cancer studies, including the Pediatric Preclinical TestingProgram, the Childhood Cancer Survivors Study, and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, areall funded by the NCI. This is significantly different than most clinical trials at hospitals that relyon donations or outside funds to maintain the programs. A key element in developing a successful cancer institution involves comprehendingchildhood cancer itself. “The ancient Greeks and Romans understood cancer and other diseasesin terms of the bodily humors of phlegm, blood, black bile, and yellow bile” (Hess). When oneof the bodily humors became out of balance, they believed this was the main cause of cancer.However, in the bacteriological revolution, people believed that cancer was infectious andapproached treatment through dietary and healthy living methods. In present day medicine, thereare many types of cancer treatment apart from the traditional radiation and chemotherapy. First,biological cancer treatments detoxify and strengthen the body so it may defend against the cancercells and metabolize them. This may be accomplished nutritionally using nutritionalsupplements, herbs, or detoxification procedures. This is sometimes seen as a more natural andorganic way of fighting cancer. It is believed that Hippocrates and Paracelsus cured cancer using
Cole 5nutrition; however, it is hard to validate this knowledge considering cancer is commonlyspeculated as a disease of modern man, therefore “modern biological cancer therapies began toappear at the beginning of the twentieth century”(Skinner). Biological treatments seem appealingbecause they are non-invasive and are not as harsh as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.Patients are not left in a depleted state of poor health after these treatments. “About 8,700 casesof cancer are diagnosed in children under the age of 15 years in the United States eachyear”(Vahey). The cause of cancer in children is widely unknown; however, the threat ofdeveloping cancer is high in patients with Down Syndrome or babies that are exposed toradiation while still in the womb. The amount of childhood cancer cases has remained stablethroughout the years. The average age of diagnosis of pediatric cancer is six years old; however,it is recognized that children have a fairly better prognosis than adults do. The treatment of adultsmay be more difficult because of other underlying health issues. Cancer in adults usually beginsdeveloping in specific organs while pediatric cancer usually develops in connective tissues.However, cancer is still the second most common cause of children older than one. In children,Leukemia accounts for 31% of all cancer cases. The most important concept that St. Judemaintains well is the need for a strong doctor to patient relationship. A staff member has theunfortunate task of making a child understand that he has a virtually incurable disease. Theseemotional situations not only affect the child, but it also examines the strength and durability ofthe family and marriage of the parents. Because pediatric oncology centers are not locatedeverywhere, families can be uprooted from their homes and lifestyles. Cancer is truly a diseasethat tests every aspect of a child’s life. Over the years St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has been a well-known idol in theworld of medicine and cancer studies. The hospital is most famously known for being operated
Cole 6mainly on donations and outside funds, yet allows any patient to receive treatment. DannyThomas created an everlasting sanctuary for the disease stricken children today. Hewholeheartedly created a place full of cutting edge technology, hope, and safety using his ownfame and fortune.