AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Each St. Jude Dream Home ticket can have an impact on kids right here at home.

Taryn invited FOX31 into her little oasis, her bedroom. Like many 7-year-olds, she has lots of teddy bears, but there’s a special one on her bookshelf.

“This is it,” Taryn said. “It has all of my survivor pins.”

Taryn’s St. Jude survivor pins are symbols of the journey and strength this karate-kicking, underwater-swimming second grader has fought and climbed to sit here today.

“Being able to see her make friends and play and hang out with other cousins, all these different things that she worked so hard to do, it really teaches me when things at work or stuff gets challenging,” Taryn’s dad, Kenan, said. “And I’m like, oh, it’s really nothing. It’s not brain surgery.”

At 2-and-a-half years old, Taryn’s parents took her to the hospital, thinking something seemed a bit off with their girl.

“We were about to take a trip for Christmas, and they said, ‘Why don’t we do an MRI before you all leave?’” Taryn’s mom, Angela, said. “So we went and had the MRI done, and they, they found the tumor in her brain stem.”

“The initial prognosis was months,” Kenan said. “Right when they gave us the diagnosis, when I finally got off the floor crying, they had us meet with palliative care, within an hour maybe of the diagnosis.”

A little girl holding a teddy bear
Doctors diagnosed Taryn with cancer when she was 2-and-a-half years old. (KDVR)

From months to a long, full life for child cancer patient

The family searched for clinical trials — anything for more time with their daughter.

“I’m like begging, like, give me some hope,” Kenan said.

Then, they came across the place that Taryn’s great-grandmother donated to monthly when she could, never thinking it would be her family who needed help: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“I remember when we spoke for the first time with a doctor at St. Jude,” Angela said. “I just remember his voice was so hopeful, and he was, like, ‘We’re going to do everything we can for her.’ That’s when we knew.”

Even with Taryn’s extraordinarily difficult prognosis, her doctors at St. Jude kept that promise.

“From terminal prognosis to, I remember her doctor said, ‘She’s going to have a long, full life in everything,’” Kenan said. “Her nurse, Ginger, said, ‘She’s our Christmas miracle.’”

The family told FOX31 they get to see a miracle every day watching their daughter grow up, thanking everyone who donates to St. Jude for making it possible.

“We would have spent our last dollar on our child’s health, but knowing that a family never receives a bill from St. Jude makes a world of a difference,” Kenan said. 

“When you buy a ticket, you have no idea if tomorrow, in 10 years, in 50 years, which kid you’re going to help save,” Angela said.