MEMPHIS, TN (WLOX) - When St Jude Children's Research Hospital opened in 1962, the overall cancer survival rate for children was twenty percent; compared to 80 percent today; and much of that improvement is due to the work at St Jude.
One St. Jude patient, who is a 24 year survivor, continues to give back to the hospital that saved his life.
At 39, Scott Hinshelwood has been roaming the halls of St Jude for a long time. Twenty-four years ago he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. He was a freshman in high school at the time.
"I had a sore ankle and my mom made me go to the doctor and it turned out it was a tumor."
Luckily for Scott, the tumor in his ankle hadn't spread. But he did have to have his left leg amputated below the knee.
"It was very traumatic, but people at St. Jude gave me confidence to live my dream."
And Scott is living his dream… at St Jude. He works with the media, and gives back to St. Jude by helping raise money through ALSAC, the hospital's fund-raising organization.
"There's no better feeling than to get to wake up and help the place that saved your life.
Scott is also part of the St. Jude life study, which means he's still being followed by doctors and the research team at St Jude. Dr. Tim Folse is part of the Survivorship clinic at St Jude.
"We focus our evaluation on the risks their treatment may have caused them; radiation, chemo; bone marrow transplants. There are specific risks associated with each one."
Following the patients long after their treatment helps them identify problems that may lead to better treatments in the future.
"The youngest patient we're seeing in the life program is 18; the oldest in the program is 72, and was 13 when he was diagnosed."
Dr. Folse, who happens to be from Collins, MS (near Hattiesburg) has been at St Jude for six years and calls it his most rewarding work.
"I feel like my work matters. I'm uplifted every time I treat someone like Scott here."
Scott is one of the big success stories at St Jude. After ten years of treatments and checkups, he was cancer free by age 24. And while it hasn't been easy, he's thankful for the opportunities St. Jude has given him.
"I'm married with three wonderful kids, so I can't complain. I'm blessed beyond belief and I get to wake up every morning and raise money for St Jude," Scott said with a smile. "I'm alive because of St Jude."
It costs $1.9 million per day to operate St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and public contributions pay for about 75 percent of those costs. And no child pays for care that is not covered by insurance.
If you'd like to help, and have a chance to win a house and other great prizes, the dream home giveaway is coming up April 12th. This year's St. Jude Dream Home is in the Village at Tradition, and is open for weekend tours through April 6. If you'd like to buy a ticket, call 1-800-206-2263. Tickets are also available at Santini's Market and the Tradition Sales office.
Visit the Dream Home website for more information: http://www.stjude.org/dhbiloxi