Cancer affects just about everyone. If not directly, most people know someone who has had the poor fortune of battling the disease. You can see how it breaks a person down, but every so often, provides an inspirational story about an amazing individual.
This is one of those tales, about a strong young girl named Abby Perez. Abby, a New Orleans native, was only four years old when she was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2007. She was initially given about a 50-50 shot at surviving the disease. Those were numbers that Abby didn’t like, and numbers she knew she could beat.
The statistics for pediatric cancer in our country are very staggering. One out of every 300 males, and one out of every 330 females will develop cancer before the age of 20 . Cancer is also the leading cause of death due to disease for children under the age of fifteen. And each year about 13,500 kids are diagnosed with cancer. That’s also 13,500 families that have their hearts ripped out by the diagnosis. These kids don’t deserve this, and it’s a special thing when people help them and their families through the tough times.
That’s where the good people at St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, and Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons come in. Abby’s family was informed that her best course of action would be to fly to St. Jude’s in Memphis to seek treatment. St. Jude’s is truly a remarkable place. The hospital was founded in 1962, and has treated countless children since then. Their goal is “To advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.” St. Jude’s provided the Perez family with an apartment, all of her treatments, and the support that they needed to feel comfortable. Most of all, they gave the Perez family hope. Hope is a magical thing in this world, and if you have it, anything is possible. Pediatric cancer uproots a family’s life, and the people at St. Jude’s are there to help the family stay strong in such a tough time. Abby went through seven months of intense treatments at St. Jude’s and on her five year checkup in 2012 she was declared cured. She had proven that she was a strong young lady, and gained a few fans along the way.
One of those fans just happened to be Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe. When the Pistons traveled to New Orleans to play the Pelicans, fellow New Orleans native Monroe got to meet Abby and her family. He even brought his own family. Monroe said he was very inspired when the Pistons visited St. Jude’s as a team in 2012, and he thought it would be special to meet and form a relationship with a family. This wasn’t anything required of Monroe, just something he had on his heart to do for a special young girl from his hometown. Abby’s mother was especially grateful to meet Monroe and his family, saying she was blown away at how grounded he was and at how passionate he is about St. Jude’s.
After Monroe and his family spent some time with the Perez family it was time to get down to business, a game with the Pelicans. Abby was given an amazing night as she sat courtside during warm-ups proudly wearing her Greg Monroe jersey. She laughed with friends as she got to see these massive NBA superstars get ready for the game. Superstars that she had proven she was just as strong as. Abby cheered all game for her new friend, and got to greet him after the game as well. It was clear Monroe had just gotten a new biggest fan, but the feeling seemed to be mutual, because Abby is definitely a superstar in her own right.
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