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7-year-old battling rare, incurable brain cancer finds hope at St. Jude

Published: Apr. 12, 2018 at 4:29 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2018 at 3:15 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Sawyer Perkins began her journey with an aggressive, rare form of brain cancer before she even started school. Over the years, she has dazzled the Richmond-area community with her bright smiles and resilience.

There is no known cure for what she faces - some hospitals have never even seen a case.

"The moment that's most ingrained in my head is when the CT scan came back, and the ER doctor walked in with the oncologist and the chaplain and wanted us to step into another room," said Jamie Perkins, Sawyer's mother. "And it was only two seconds, but it felt like two hours walking into that other room."

Before the diagnosis, Sawyer's personality was off, and her eye was crossing.

Her mother took her to the hospital, where she was raced to another hospital. And those heart-stopping moments came with news that she had two large brain tumors.

Emergency surgery was scheduled to remove them, but the news was not good - the tumors will keep growing back.

But the now 7-year-old girl, like many so many others, is finding hope at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"They were the first ones to call us back," said Perkins. "They were the first ones on the phone. They took care of our plane tickets and our housing."

Donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and enter for a chance to win the $560,000 dream home by calling 800-391-2433 NOW

St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. And like him, the hospital is filled with doctors and researchers who work on finding cures for "lost causes," because as Danny Thomas, the hospital's founder said, "no child should die in the dawn of life."

"Sawyer is very feisty and funny and spunky - she definitely knows what she wants and how to get it," said Jamie.

Despite her positive attitude, a battle like this requires sacrifices from entire families.

And St. Jude recognizes that - no family gets a bill for their stay or treatment.

"I've had to quit my job to take care of her," said Jamie. "I don't know how we would have afforded all of the chemos and radiations, and St. Jude takes care of all of that. We don't ever get a copay from them."

Recently, Jamie is spending lots of extra time at St. Jude, because Sawyer's latest scans showed another tumor, in an inoperable spot.

Sawyer is undergoing another clinical trial, that involves more chemo.

"These things happen to friends of friends, cousin's kids, and you don't even think about them and you feel bad and you pray. But you never think it'll be me and my daughter," said Perkins. "I could have never imagined that she would have brain cancer. That's so scary."

Sawyer and her family say St. Jude has been a bright spot.

"As soon as we walk in the door, 'hey Sawyer!'" said Perkins. "You know everybody knows her name, and everybody knows what's going on - the doctors, the nurses. Her oncologist knows exactly what kind if sticker she likes. And her nurse knows not to ask her too many questions because she'll get cranky."

And that's why supporting this special place means all the difference. Donating to St. Jude truly means hope for Sawyer and many other children like her as they continue the fight for their lives. Call 800-391-2433 now to donate and enter for a chance to win a $560,000 dream home!

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