Survivors, families recall being ‘saved’ by St. Jude

Isabel and Christine Gravez
Christine Graves (right) poses with her daughter Isabel for the St. Jude Radiothon. Christine’s son Emilio died of State 4 neuroblastoma at age 4.

By Ashley Antonini

BLOOMINGTON – Friday marks the second and final day of the WJBC and Radio Bloomington St. Jude Radiothon.

Cael Wolfe was diagnosed with cancer when he was just six years old. He quickly found his way to Memphis were he was treated at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Though the experience was intimidating to such a young person, Cael knew he was in good hands. St. Jude made sure the he only focused on getting better, and they would take care of the rest.

“We didn’t have to pay any bills and they took care of us,” Wolfe said. “They tried to make us happy, they just did everything.”

The entire family is impacted when a family member is diagnosed with cancer and Cael’s mother, Jamie, was no exception. But she found solace in the care that St. Jude gave to her son.

“St. Jude is an incredible place, you never want to hear the words that your child has cancer, but from the moment we walked in the door at St. Jude they just took us in and they become your family,” Jamie Wolfe said.

Now a healthy, 10 year-old boy. Cael said he feels so blessed that he can be a normal kid again.

“It’s like a made a wish and it came back to me,” he said.

Three days before his 18th birthday, Austin Otey was diagnosed with Stage 4 medulloblastoma brain cancer. It wasn’t long after that he made his way to St. Jude to undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment. Though it is expected that someone in his situation would be terrified, Otey embraced his reality and he owed a lot of that optimism to St. Jude.

That was probably the best experience of my life,” Otey said. “If you are going to go through cancer, do it at St. Jude.”

Otey said St. Jude welcomed him with open arms.

“They talk a lot about St. Jude families, plural, but when you are down there you really feel like a St. Jude family,” Otey said.

He’s now living outside of Bloomington, cancer free.

“If there’s a God above, I don’t know why he saved me, but I know why St. Jude saved me and that’s because I needed to be saved,” Otey said. “That’s all they needed.”

The radiothon’s goal is to exceed last year’s mark of $91,285 over the two-day event to pay for treatment and research of childhood cancers.

You can become a Partner in Hope by calling 1-800-374-4995.

Eric Stock can be reached at eric.stock@cumulus.com.

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