St. Jude Affiliate Clinic gives cancer care closer to home
IOWA, LA (KPLC) - Pediatric cancer care closer to home: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is an eight-hour drive or plane ride away for families in Southwest Louisiana, but an affiliate clinic in Baton Rouge is offering a seamless transition in care.
Six-year-old Hadlee Henry of Iowa was diagnosed with leukemia in September 2015.
Her mom, Corren, made the decision to travel to St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee, because of its state-of-the-art cancer care at no charge to a patient's family.
St. Jude has been a home away from home for the Henrys.
"I've probably lived there for six months total since this started," said Corren.
Hadlee has celebrated a birthday there, her first day of kindergarten, and undergone dozens of treatments to bring her to pre-remission in this nearly three year treatment plan. She just completed week 79, with 41 more to go.
Check-ups are every three months in Memphis and once a week in Baton Rouge, at the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital.
"They're able to do everything that Memphis does, you're just closer to home and they give you that reassurance that you need when you can't always go to Memphis," said Corren.
It is a much easier trip, with medical staff like registered nurse, Joan Walters, who has become like family.
"We truly adore our kids," said Walters. "We try to treat them like they're our own and we try to anticipate what they need and be very sensitive to their fears and anxieties."
That compassionate care, closer to home, makes a big difference for these families who have been on a stressful roller coaster of research and recovery, hours away from home.
"It's hard being so far away from your family and friends," said Corren. "To not have that support system to lean on, you just kind of have to rely on phone calls or text messages."
But in the comfort of her living room, on the same day she receives chemo in her port, Hadlee can be where she is most herself: free-spirited, care-free, and full of reassurance that this cancer fight will be won.
"With a smile on her face, we're going to get through it," said Corren. "We're going to be okay."
There are eight St. Jude Affiliate Clinics in the U.S. Families are never charged for the care connected to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or its affiliate clinics.
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