Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
by Cinthia Almeraz on Sep 01, 2021
Hi! I'm Teresa, a Latina Lifters OG and Hero for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I started my personal health journey in 2012 and have enjoyed lifting heavy and pushing my own limits ever since. I was born in El Salvador, grew up in New York with many states and life experiences in between before landing in Las Vegas.
In 1985, El Salvador was in the middle of a notoriously violent civil war during which farmers, peasants, clergy, women and children were the primary targets. My biological mother put me up for adoption before I was born, and 19 days after my birth my mom first held me in her arms. My mom is a strong, passionate, daughter of immigrants. At 49-years old, she was a single, full-time teacher and she was determined to build a family of her own. Without a doubt, my mother saved my life. I truly don’t know where I would be today, or if I would even be alive, had she not taken a leap of faith and traveled to a war-torn country to give a baby girl a world of opportunity. As I’ve grown older, the impact of her sacrifice has become clearer to me. I have a distinct drive to serve others, creating opportunity and hope however I can, just like my mom did for me. This is how I came to find St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
After my mom retired from teaching in 2011, she and I both began volunteer work with St. Jude. It had been a mission she believed in since the hospital doors opened in 1962 and she finally had the chance to do more for them during her retirement. We began volunteering in our respective states – her in New York and me in New Mexico. We were also individual fundraisers, participating in fitness events around the country like Rock-n-Roll Marathons (5k’s only!!) and Warrior Dashes, all while raising funds for the families St. Jude.
In 2018, I decided to attempt my greatest fitness challenge to date: the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend Half. And I decided to push my mom in a wheelchair for all 13.1 miles. My mom is incredibly healthy, however I knew she would never be able to make the distance (I was skeptical I would be able to make it), but the Half Marathon course ran through a portion of the hospital campus where patients, researchers and doctors lined the course to cheer for the runners. How could I not give her the opportunity to see firsthand the people her volunteerism and fundraising impacted? I hate running, but the only thing that kept me going on that unseasonably warm December day was knowing my mom would love every minute (or 3+ hours) of it, and all the kids I knew I was running for.
Today kicks-off of Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Since the hospital doors opened at St. Jude, the childhood cancer survival rate has gone from 20% to more than 80%. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, which means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and all around the world. Families never see a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food…EVER. Because St. Jude believes all families should worry about is helping their child live.
This year, I've decided to challenge myself once more. Once again, my mom and I will be participating in the 2021 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Half on December 4, 2021. Thanks to generous supporters like Cin and Latina Lifters, I'm closer to my fundraising goal every single day. In recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Hispanic Heritage month, Latina Lifters will be sharing patient stories and the impact St. Jude research has had on pediatric cancer treatment in Latin American countries.Donate by purchasing any Latina Lifters merchandise throughout the month of September and 5% of sales will go to St. Jude. You can also donate directly to my Half Marathon fundraising page at http://heroes.stjude.org/TStillDoesntRun. Thank you for taking a moment to read to my story and I hope you will join me all month long in supporting the lifesaving mission at St. Jude.