COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) Most of us remember special dates in our lives like birthdays, holidays, and wedding anniversaries.
For Jennifer Chavez, another date is seared into her memory: the day her family learned their oldest daughter, Kaylee, had cancer.
“On December 5, 2014 our world was turned upside down,” she said.
Kaylee was rushed to an ER after weeks of headaches, vomiting and a couple of misdiagnoses. Doctors found a brain tumor. Kaylee had surgery here in Colorado where doctors removed most of the tumor.
“We were told that Kaylee's cancer was very aggressive and that she only had a 20% chance of survival. I remember feeling quite hopeless, devastated and terrified,” Jen said.
That’s where St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital comes in. Jennifer’s dad sent an email to St. Jude the next day, which set into motion a path that would change their lives. Within a couple of days, the Chavez family was on a flight to Memphis.
Within a week of being at St. Jude, doctors told them Kaylee’s chances of survival were much higher than previous doctors had thought. For the next 11 months Kaylee and family lived in Memphis while she received treatments at St. Jude, without ever paying a bill. The hospital even provided gift cards for food.
Now nearly 5 years later, Kaylee is still cancer free.
“We were able to fully focus on our daughter rather than bills and expenses,” Jennifer said. “We are thankful every day for St. Jude and that they saved our daughter.”
Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80%. Plus, St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes. That means every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists in Colorado Springs and worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.
That’s why the whole Chavez family now volunteers with St. Jude, including helping to plan the Colorado Springs St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer.
The event is coming up on Saturday, September 21 with the opening ceremony beginning at 8:30 a.m. The walk helps to raise money for kids just like Kaylee who receive live saving treatment for childhood cancer.
The walk is only $10 but people are encouraged to raise more funding to help end childhood cancer.
Businesses are encouraged to create company teams and walk together. The fundraising goal for the event is $80,000.
11 News Morning Anchors Rebekah Hoeger and Adam Atchison and Rebekah Hoeger are emceeing the event, and Meteorologist Sydney Jackson will also be there as a planning committee member.