Hi, my name is Bianca Papa, I am 16 years old and a junior at Dwyer High School I am organizing the 2nd annual “Running Cancer out of the Park” 5k in celebration of my 13 year old brother, Beckett Papa. 4 years ago, at the age of 9 he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
Our family began a very difficult journey that changed our lives forever.
My brother went from having a normal childhood of going to the beach, attending school, and playing club soccer to hospital stays, doctor appointments, weekly rounds of chemo, countless procedures and feeling sick all the time. My mom and brother moved to Memphis, TN for almost 10 months for him to be treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. My sister, Bella, and I stayed at home in Palm Beach Gardens with my Dad.
St. Jude’s is the #1 Pediatric Cancer Research Hospital. The discoveries they have made have completely changed how doctors treat children with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. Since St. Jude was established, the survival rate for ALL has increased from 4% in 1962 to 94% today. The overall survival rate for childhood cancers has risen from 20% to 80%. Families at St. Jude never receive a bill for treatment, housing or food. All they want the family to focus on is the health of their child.
My brother was able to come home 2 years ago where he continued to receive weekly chemo at St. Mary’s in West Palm Beach and monthly chemo visits to St. Jude’s in Memphis. By the grace of God and the wisdom of both his doctors at St. Judes and St. Mary’s, my brother received his final chemo treatment on February 22, 2018. He is now in full remission, attending school at St. Marks, playing sports and enjoying being a kid again. Our family is now on a mission to give back to the hospital that gave my brother a 2nd chance.
My goal is to continue organizing this annual 5k that will raise funds for St. Judes so they can continue to fulfill the dream of its founder, Danny Thomas, “no child should die in the dawn of life.”
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