St. Jude helped five-year-old child through rare cancer

St. Jude runs on donations

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Five-year-old Cash Shank's carefree childhood changed in October when he started getting migraines.

"We took him to the emergency room because I couldn't see why a five-year-old would have headaches so bad," said Cash's mother, Megan Shank.

The ER diagnosed it as the flu, so the family went to their pediatrician who after conducting tests, told Cash's parents their son had a rare form of brain cancer.

"It feels like the whole world is crashing down on you," said Cash's father, Rob Shank. "Like someone is reaching into your chest and squeezing your heart. It hurt."

A month later, Cash, his parents Rob and Megan, left their home in Fresno and went to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"When we walked in the door, when we first got here we knew we were at the right place," said Megan.  "the day we met his doctors for the first time, we knew he had the right doctors and I knew what they were doing."

"Whenever I meet a child who has been given no help elsewhere, to think I can offer that hope," said Dr. David Shook at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  "I can give that child that family a chance they did not have elsewhere."

Cash underwent the hospital's worldwide groundbreaking combination use of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

"After his surgery when they took out the tumor, he wasn't even supposed to move the left side of his body for three months and [on] the second day, he moved his toe and third day he was walking around," said Rob. "He has totally blown us and the doctors away."

A ratio of three nurses to one patients makes sure the kids get the care and comfort while hundreds of researchers and doctors work around the clock at the hospital to pioneer research and treatment.

"I don't think we'd be here today if it were for this place," said Rob.

At St. Jude, no family ever pays for anything including their treatment, housing, even food. The daily operating cost of St. Jude is $1.8 million, primarily covered by donations.

"Without the donations they wouldn't be able to do this for our son or the other kids," said Rob. "It's probably one of the best things you can spend your money on if you can to help save kids and keep this place running."

One child saved at St. Jude means thousands more are saved worldwide because of the research shared.

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