MEMPHIS, Tenn. St. Jude has treated children from all over the world, all 50 states including Idaho, and each year, on average, St. Jude treats over 7,800 children. KTVB went to Memphis to get a firsthand look at the facility and talk with some of the doctors that work there.
Everybody is working for the same goal here, said Dr. Racheal Brennan.
Dr. Brennan grew up in Montana, but the Big Sky native has found a new home as a pediatric oncologist at St. Jude specializing in retinoblastoma.
She says the freedom that doctors have in research and treatment without medical mandates from Washington has offered them opportunities to find breakthroughs that would be more difficult under federal guidelines.
At St. Jude I don t have to fight, said Brennan. The donors that are around the country make that difference for me and I feel connected to all the other parts of the country. We're here in Memphis but I still feel connected to home. I still feel connected to Montana, to Idaho, to Washington, to Florida. We have donors from all over, we have patients from all over. And that makes a difference that I can take the time with each patient and what it is the family needs and what the patient needs. If it is a lab test or an imaging study I have the ability to offer that to the patient, and if it's just listening to them and time, I also have the ability to do that because I'm not tied to 'I have to see so many patients in clinic, or I have to get through X number of whatever per day.
Upstairs in one of the many research labs at St. Jude, Dr Katherine Szaramais is looking for clues that she hopes will lead her to a road map in the fight against cancer.
Which, in the area she is working on right now -- neroblastoma -- is at a 40 percent survival rate, something she is working to change.
The end game for me is to ultimately lower the overall burden and to make sure the patient survives the tumor, said Dr. Szaramais.
And how do you feel that road map is going? asked NewsChannel 7.
Our road map going forward, we think that St Jude has equipped us to answer questions in more high throughput manner, and also being in this environment I see so many opportunities for collaboration, not only with other scientists, but also with researchers around the world, she said.
And also right there at St. Jude!
Everybody's working for the same goal here and you see it at work cause you're in the cafeteria, and you the post docs, see the researchers and you go to the meetings, and hearing what they're working on and thinking - how can that benefit my patients or the work I'm doing in the clinic? And, 'Hey have you thought about doing this?' So, there's a conversation that's constantly happening, and that conversation keeps me going, and that means there can be a difference made in what we're doing. It's not just a job, it's a way of life, said Dr. Brennan.
The scientific questions are waking me up in the morning and keeping me up at night, but no matter how early or late I stay at this lab I will see patients and their families who arrive earlier or leave later that I do everyday, so what motivates me to keep coming in every morning is that I'm going to be able to answer those questions -- one more day, another set of those experiments, said Dr. Szaramais.
The winning ticket in the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway will be drawn on Sunday, June 22. All of the money raised here in Idaho will go to the life-saving efforts the hospital and research center is doing for children with catastrophic illnesses.