WJBC Afternoon Host Jim Fitzpatrick visited with 5-year-old Lucy Weber Thursday. (Photo by Paul Morello/WJBC)
Lucy, 5, wants a big giraffe for her "No Mo Chemo" party
By Beth Whisman
BLOOMINGTON - Five-year-old Lucy Weber is one step closer to her "No Mo Chemo" party -- a tradition for patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital when they reach the end of their chemotherapy.
The two-year leukemia survivor will end her treatments in August. It's a bittersweet milestone, according to her parents. Her mother, Shawna, said Thursday they're used to having an on-call staff that watches over Lucy.
"We know she's getting chemo and while we hate it, we also know it's doing its job. So when she stops, we don't have that safety net. So we're excited, but we're a little scared," Shawna explained.
Lucy was diagnosed with leukemia on the day after Christmas in 2010. Shawna says 24 hours later they were in Memphis where they lived there for about six months while St. Jude doctors began a three-year treatment protocol.
Lucy gets chemo every day at home, and every week at the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate in Peoria. She told WJBC's Jim Fitzpatrick she'll be glad to get off the steroid dexamethasone -- known as "dex" -- that can make her hurt all over.
"I just get all painful and all I get to do all day is lie on the couch and watch TV," she said.
The family is sharing their story to help Radio Bloomington's annual St. Jude Radiothon.
Meanwhile, Lucy has big plans for the day she goes off chemotherapy. She's going to "buy that giraffe I really love in Peoria."
The giraffe is a large stuffed animal that sits inside the gift shop at the Children's Hospital of Illinois where the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate is housed.
"When we walk by ... every week she gives it a hug," explained Shawna. "I said when we're done with treatment; I will buy you that giraffe."
In August, her family plans a large "No Mo Chemo" party to help raise money for St. Jude. Until then, they're asking people to become a Partner in Hope with the St. Jude Radiothon.
Gravez famiy fights cancer in son's memory
Emilio Gravez (left) with his sister Isabel (right). Emilio fought neuroblastoma but died in March 2009 after a relapse. (Photo courtesy of Christine Gravez)
By WJBC Staff
BLOOMINGTON - St. Jude Children's Research Hospital opened in 1962 and since then, the research center has pushed overall survival rates of childhood cancers from 20 percent to 80 percent.
WJBC and sister stations WBNQ and B104 are partnering with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for the annual two-day radiothon. Donation totals for day one have already surpassed $23,000 and the drive continues Friday.
Local parents are telling their personal stories of what it was like to get the care of St. Jude.
Christine Gravez's son Emilio died in 2009 from stage four Neuroblastoma. That's a cancerous tumor that develops in nerve tissue.
"Neuroblastoma survival rates a few years ago were only about 20 or 30 percent. But, St. Jude has increased that survival rate to almost 50 percent," Gravez said. "While that's not where we want it to be, we want it to be a 100 percent curable rate, they've made leaps and bounds in their research, medications and treatments."
Gravez said she didn't have much experience with St. Jude before Emilio was diagnosed.
"In our first trip down there, walking through those doors, we were envisioning the normal hospital atmosphere but we saw something very, very different. Kids were running around with smiles on their faces, child care specialists playing games with children," Gravez said.
Steve and Vicki Trimpe celebrate daughter's survival
By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON - A local family whose daughter beat cancer as an infant wants to see more happy endings like they have had.
Steve and Vicki Trimpe became St. Jude parents when their 11-month-old daughter Rachel was stricken with ovarian cancer seven years ago. She received treatment at the St. Jude affiliate in Peoria, Children's Hospital of Illinois and is healthy and happy today.
Vicki Trimpe urged everyone to give to St. Jude for research.
"Not everyone has the happy story that we have. Rachel is doing great. There are still kids that are fighting for their lives and there are kids that have lost their battles already. St. Jude isn't going to stop until they have a cure for every child with cancer," Trimpe said.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital shares all of its research with others in the medical community.
Trimpe said she shocked to learn that the family didn't have to pay anything.
"They said they'll bill our insurance and anything that insurance doesn't cover, (St. Jude) will pay for it. We thought 'Wow, what a huge blessing,' when we didn't have to worry about going bankrupt for pay for our medical bills. We could concentrate on doing what we needed to do to get Rachel well," Trimpe said.
The St. Jude Midwest Affiliate is housed in Peoria
PEORIA - A board member with St Jude Children's Research Hospital's Midwest Affiliate in Peoria said Thursday one of the best parts of St Jude is that even though it costs nearly $2 million per day to operate, familes don't pay for anything.
"Then the families can just focus purely on having a very, very good success story to tell in a couple of years, because there are so many of those with St. Jude," said Cindy Blackburn.
She also noted the top priority for the hospital is patient success, but staff never forget how difficult the experience can be for the patient's siblings.
"St. Jude really embraces those children and ensures that the brother or sister understands what their sibling is going through," she said. "It's a family affair at the end of the day and St. Jude doesn't leave anyone out."
Many local St. Jude patients get outpatient treatment done in Peoria instead of having to travel to the headquarters in Memphis, according to Blackburn.
Meanwhile, board member Kevin Callis summed up the mission of St. Jude.
"The dream of Danny Thomas and St. Jude was to remove the things that we can remove from worry and to provide absolutely the best, most cutting-edge health care that we can today. And we do that on a volunteer basis," he said.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas. Its mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world.
Become a Partner in Hope!
To become a Partner in Hope, pledge $20 or more a month. You can donate through the St. Jude link. Or call 1-800-374-4995.