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California family shares how St. Jude saved their child's life

Statues of children outside St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Oct. 8, 2019 (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Thousands of families have placed their hope in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Among them are Christen Peterson and her 12-year-old son Cole.

The Orange County family moved to Memphis last year, when her son was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer that developed a tumor in Cole’s head the size of a tennis ball.

“We’re your standard California family and then you get hit with something like this and it just – your whole world is shattered,” Christen said.

After the diagnosis, Christen and Cole moved to Memphis to start treatment at St. Jude.

Christen said when she first learned about his diagnosis, her world was turned upside down.

“How can my kid have cancer? What are you talking about? Because it’s always somebody else’s kid,” Christen said. “It’s never your own, until it happens to you.”

When she arrived at St. Jude the hospital took care of everything, allowing her to focus solely on Cole’s well-being.

“Literally as a parent, you walk in and all you have to worry about is making sure that your child is OK,” she said.

After spending a year at the hospital, receiving advanced treatment for his cancer, and joining every medical trial they could, Cole is now cancer-free.

The support St. Jude gave them is something Christen said she never takes for granted.

“When you go to the movie theater, the usher will come in at the beginning and say ‘Do you want to, you know, donate to [St. Jude]?’ I will stand up, and if my son is with me I’ll have him stand up with me, and I will share our story, to do anything I can to get just one more dollar. Anything that will help,” Christen said.

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