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She Wants to Give Back
Story and photos by Tammy Harrow
When Alexis Ferro was 10 years old her mom, Kim began worrying something wasn’t quite right. She seemed lethargic and a couple of days later began having neck pain bad enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. There she was examined and sent on her way with a neck brace and a referral to see an orthopedic doctor.
Alexis had just finished two grueling years of treatment for Sclerdoma, an autoimmune disease that left both her and her family drained. But a mother’s intuition told Kim something more serious was wrong with her daughter and they returned to the hospital once more. After nearly a week, doctors delivered a devastating blow: Alexis had Medulloblastoma — a rare brain cancer. She would need immediate neurosurgery to remove the tumor and extensive chemo and radiation treatment for months afterwards.
During her three week stay at the first facility, mistakes were made leaving Alexis’ parents on edge and on constant guard to make certain they were present every moment of their daughter’s care. Desperate, Kim sent an email to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital explaining her daughter’s conditions and how terrified they were that Alexis wasn’t being given the treatment she deserved.
The following morning, Kim received a phone call from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital telling them to pack their bags — Alexis and her family were going to Memphis.
For the next eight months, the family lived at the Target House at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Alexis spent her days going for treatments. Chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, and radiation became a part of everyday life, as did just staying alive — Alexis was too weak to walk or even eat much of the time.
Fast forward to today: Alexis is a thriving cancer free junior at Nease High School who wants to give back. She has applied to be amongst the select few chosen to volunteer at St. Jude this coming summer. She has also applied to be a camp counselor at Camp Boggy Creek — a camp for brain injured campers she attended for many years.
As far as future plans, Alexis has aspirations of becoming an occupational therapist. And she hopes it will be at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers and has become a beacon of hope to parents and children facing their darkest hours. Families never receive a bill from St Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food. Since opening in 1962, treatments at St. Jude have pushed overall survival rates of some types of childhood cancer from 20% to 80% and they will not stop until no child dies from cancer.
Along with a committee of volunteers, St. Augustine’s The White Room hosts an annual fundraising gala to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — St. Jude Miracle on the Bayfront Gala.
For more information visit: stjude.org/miracleonthebayfront