DENVER– 10 years ago, Enrique Ramirez lived in Japan with his family while serving his country in the U.S. Navy.
He says his life was perfect, until he heard the words no parent ever wants to hear.
“My daughter was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor called ATRT,” Ramirez said.
His daughter Arianna had an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor.
“She had just turned three and the original hospital told us she would never turn four. The best case scenario was 13 months,” Ramirez said.
But Ramirez and his wife Leticia were unwilling to accept this death sentence. That’s how they found St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Arianna started treatment at St. Jude in August 2009. She received 31 treatments of radiation and 4 months of chemotherapy. Arianna then lived cancer free for a year and half, giving her a chance to live like a normal girl.
“She was a Disney freak,” Ramirez said. “She loved going to Disneyworld. she had been to Disneyworld more times than your normal person.”
Thanks to donations through events like the Dream Home giveaway, St Jude is able to provide treatment to children free of charge to families, allowing Arianna and her family even more visits to Disney.
“Thanks to St. Jude, we were able to afford time to make those memories,” Ramirez said.
Sadly, the disease returned in 2011, but experimental chemo through St. Jude gave the Ramirez’s another two and half years with Arianna.
Arianna passed away in March of 2014, but Enrique says he’s extremely grateful for what St. Jude gave him. He’s so grateful that he now works with St. Jude’s fundraising arm, American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), where he is a Senior Specialist & Patient Liaison.
“Thanks to St. Jude,” Ramirez said, “we got almost five years we would not have gotten elsewhere.”