Over 50 years ago, entertainer Danny Thomas founded St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, arguing that "no child should die in the dawn of life." St. Jude continues to be at the forefront of children's cancer research.
Founded in 1962 by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has a world-renowned pediatric cancer treatment center, studying cancers like Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or A.L.L.
In the past forty years, medicine has made great strides in the treatment of all, increasing the five-year survival rate from 15 percent in the 1960s to over 80 percent today; however, the survival rates for African-American children still lag behind that of white children.
Dr. Ching-Hon Pui, Chair of Oncology at St. Jude, has led a major study of the factors contributing to the poorer treatment outcomes of black children with A.L.L. The St. Jude study showed that when patients have equal access to care and a more aggressive treatment plan, they have an equal chance for survival, regardless of race.
At the cutting edge of cancer research and treatment, the drug protocol at St. Jude involves a more intensive administration of chemotherapy. While, at most cancer centers, chemotherapy involves a four drug “cocktail,” St. Jude patients receive two rounds of a six drug treatment plan.
St. Jude's more aggressive approach has led to a higher survival rate for both African-American and white children with A.L.L. In advancing pediatric cancer research and treatment, the medical team at St. Jude is living-up to Danny Thomas' saying, “No child should die in the dawn of life.”
Steve Pike is the director of the Pink Palace Family of Museums.