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Former St. Jude patient moves to Memphis, gives back

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (KDVR) — FOX31 and Channel 2 have officially sold out of tickets for the St. Jude Dream Home giveaway. With each $100 ticket sold, viewers like you helped raise $2.4 million towards St. Jude’s mission, this year alone.

In the last 13 years, Denver raised more than $16.6 million for St. Jude with the Dream Home Giveaway tickets.

FOX31’s Nicole Fierro took a trip to St. Jude’s campus in Memphis, Tennessee to learn firsthand what that money is funding, not just for children but for St. Jude survivors who are now adults. 

Revisiting the hospital where you fought for your life against cancer could be a scary experience. However, former St. Jude patient Bess said the opposite.

When Bess was 11 years old, she noticed a lump on her clavicle. After visiting numerous doctors, a biopsy was done revealing cancer.

“It was tumors inside, blood vessels inside the bone, and I had over 30 tumors,” Bess said. “I’m one in 10 cases all over the world.”

Bess was immediately sent to St. Jude in Memphis. Upon arrival, she began what would be a 2-and-a-half-year chemotherapy treatment plan. Along with the chemotherapy, Bess received radiation treatments as needed.

“When I was done here in 2003, I actually got homesick and I was trying to figure out how to get back here just to see it and be in Memphis,” Bess said.

Bess found more than one way to get back to St. Jude. For starters, she moved back to Memphis to work on campus, finding herself among quite a few other survivors.

“I think there’s over 20 of us that work at ALSAC alone,” Bess said. “Then we have some nurses and doctors that are former patients as well, and researchers. We see what St. Jude did for us and what the donors have done for us, so now we want to give back to the kids.”

Beyond working on campus, Bess is also able to help influence the way treatments are done.

“One of the big things that they started in 2008 was called the St. Jude Life Study, where they want to see what is happening to us, to either change protocols for the patients now or just to tell us what doctors we might want to see in the near future,” Bess said. 

Bess said the follow-up visits have helped her learn a lot about her body. 

“I’m only 40 and I’ve already had a colonoscopy and found out I had precancerous polyps,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I might have colon cancer now. So, we are always a patient here.”

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