Some of St. Jude’s biggest fundraisers are former patients once homesick for Memphis

Their efforts support kids in Peoria, too.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 9:22 PM CST
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MEMPHIS (25 News Now) - For the patients of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, it often becomes more than a place of treatment. So much so, some of these kids grow up to be warriors of fundraising for the hospital that saved their lives.

Jenise Rebholz took a tour of the Memphis campus to learn more about their commitment to kids.

While she was there, she learned the commitment that is reciprocated by many of their fundraising teams.

“I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which is the most common form of bone cancer,” said survivor Scott Hinshelwood.

Ankle pain brought him to the doctor in 1990... later learning it was cancer.

Scott tells us he really wasn’t that worried when he got the diagnosis, thinking it would take some treatment and he’d be back to playing basketball.

He would be back to the court eventually, but with a prosthetic leg.

“We started on chemo and by the end of June they came to me and said hey in order to get your tumor we’re going to do a below knee amputation, said Hinshelwood.

And now Scott looks down every day with the reminder, he is a survivor... just like Bess Atkinson, who would come to this campus 1994.

“I remember just not wanting to move because every time I did it just hurt so bad... I was one in ten cases all over the world, it’s called myxoid angelo blastoma and it’s tumors inside blood vessels, inside the bone,” said survivor Bess Atkinson.

It was more than 10 different chemotherapies in two years for Bess, as doctors looked for a combination that would be successful at killing the cancer that originated in her clavicle.

“I had over 30 tumors in my body and that was the last time we asked how many tumors I had. They started radiation and radiation was actually killing my tumors,” said Atkinson.

She would fly home to Pennsylvania in between treatments to resume as much as a normal childhood as possible. but something she didn’t expect, was to be home sick for Memphis...

“When I was done, fully done with St Jude after I graduated in 2003 I would get homesick and say I think I need to go back there. Sooo, I actually moved here and started working at our national office and felt like home ever since.”

And when she got to Memphis to work, she joined people like Scott. They are now both examples of what life can be after cancer and the power of St Jude.

“I get to work for the place that saved my life... it just doesn’t get any better than that,” said Hinshelwood.

But the dedication to patients lives doesn’t stop when they’re cancer free... the hospital conducts life studies, benefiting both survivors and current patients.

“St Jude doesn’t just treat you and say hey send us a letter let us know how you are, they follow you now for the rest of your life. They want to look at the toxicity of how we were treated back then to see what the long-term side effects are now,” said Hinshelwood.

It’s that continuous care, growth, and research that makes St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and the Jim and Trudy Maloof St. Jude Midwest Affiliate Clinic, located in the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, in Peoria so important to the childhood cancer fight.

The annual Peoria St Jude Dream Home Giveaway is important to helping fund that mission...

Tickets go on sale Tuesday, January 24 for a chance to win this year’s dream home worth more than half a million dollars.