Charlotte family helped by St. Jude shares cancer fight

Updated: Jul. 16, 2019 at 8:19 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - They say you don’t get to choose your family. They are God’s gift to you. Nothing would be more true after hearing St. Jude patient Jennings’ story.

“He was kind of cherubic, bright blonde, blue eyed toddler,” says his mother Lauren.

All things pointed to the then three-year-old being a happy, healthy boy until: “Slowly life sort of kind of started to dim out of him," says Lauren.

“I really thought nothing of it. I mean I knew something was wrong," Lauren explains. “But never in your life did you think cancer?,” asked WBTV’s Christine Sperow. “No. Before cancer diagnosis you think you are completely immune to that. We all do. We think: That’s somebody else’s story not our story,” says Lauren.

After a number of the recurring fevers, breathing troubles and Lauren insisting something more was wrong, Jennings’ pediatrician ordered a blood test. The result: An abnormally high white blood cell count... followed by words no parent wants to hear.

“He has leukemia. You need to go to the hospital tonight. It was a critical situation. It wasn’t, ‘Go home and get your stuff’ or ‘We’ll refer you.’ It was you’re going to the hospital tonight. He is not well,” says Lauren.

The next three months would be spent getting chemotherapy at the St. Jude affiliate clinic at Novant Health in Charlotte and eventually they would move the family to St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee to continue treatment.

They say you don’t get to choose your family. They are God’s gift to you. The next part of Jennings journey couldn’t be more true.

“I can look at him and say that his sister’s blood runs through his body, and to me that’s a specific miracle. It’s amazing,” Lauren says.

Beating Jennings’ cancer would require a bone marrow transplant and finding a donor. His five-year-old sister, Caroline, was a perfect match. Jennings would be transplanted with her healthy stem cells.

“Yes in his body his blood is made up of the DNA of his sister’s. It’s not his. It’s his sister’s. So it’s a really special physical and emotional connection that they’ll have the rest of their lives. At day 100 they looked at his bone marrow. He was still in remission and he was cleared to go home. So we’ve been back in Charlotte since august of 2018 and recovering from transplant which was pretty much a year long process,” Lauren says.

One that comes at zero expense to the family.

That’s what the abundance of this place is. So abundantly gracious and giving. They don’t just give they give big," Lauren says, referring to the fact that no family receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, food or housing.

Just think: If you bought a ticket to win the Dream Home over the years we have been doing this - your generosity is why Jennings is in remission today.

You will definitely impact the life of a child when you start reserving your Dream Home tickets. They go on sale Thursday, July 18. For more details about the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway and the prizes up for grabs, click here.

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