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Story of Hope: Gideon

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One-year-old Gideon is a curious little boy who is quick to smile.

At only seven months old, his young life took a turn no one could have expected. It began when his mother, Katie, noticed bruising over his left eye last October.

“We thought maybe he had just bonked himself with a toy, he was almost seven months old, you know, starting to play with all kinds of things,” Katie said.

But when bruising developed over his right eye, along with swelling on his head, Gary and Katie were alarmed.

“We called the pediatrician. She got us in right away,” said Katie.

She delivered the words no parents wants to hear.

“’Your baby’s got neuroblastoma. No questions about it.’ She came in crying when she told us that,” said Katie.

The doctor immediately sent Gary and Katie to Children’s Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center, which is an affiliate of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Within 24 hours, Gideon was on his way to St. Jude by air ambulance.

Doctors confirmed a diagnosis of stage-four, high-risk neuroblastoma. The cancer is a rare type of tumor that affects children almost exclusively and accounts for 50 percent of all cancers in infants. Neuroblastoma is slightly more common in boys than in girls.

When Gideon arrived at St. Jude, doctors wasted no time launching his plan of treatment.

“It was amazing how quickly they got the imaging done, the diagnosing, and right to treatments. And I mean, it was critical at that point. We were looking at him potentially losing vision if we didn’t get started on treatments right away,” said Katie.

Fast forward six months and Gideon is responding well.

“The scans we’ve had along the way have shown incredible progress,” said Katie.

Gideon’s primary tumor was removed on March 15. A pathology report showed it was less than 1 percent viable, which means less than 1 percent of the tissue removed was still alive.

“It’s obviously working wonders in our child,” said Gary.

Gideon’s parents also are encouraged to see cancer hasn’t changed his sunny personality.

“We were concerned that treatment would diminish or dampen his spirit, and he hasn’t lost a bit of fight,” Katie said.

“He is by far the happiest person I have ever met in my life. He is ridiculously cute and makes me want to wonder how my genetics are a part of his equation. He is a wonderful child,” said Gary.

Gary and Katie say they are amazed by the level of care they’ve received from St. Jude.

 “[When I arrived at the hospital I] instantly saw my child being taken care of. There was already an oncologist here waiting for us, an eye doctor making sure that tumors weren’t pressing on his optic nerve, and what really got me the most was, I walked in and there was a nurse’s assistant holding my child, rocking him as he’s crying as my wife’s having to deal with paperwork. And that there was already someone here instantly loving my child in the same way that I would want him to be loved,” said Gary. “And I feel like that’s, the instant I walked into St. Jude that’s what this experience was. The just overwhelming love and care for my sweet Gideon.”

Donations to St. Jude through fundraisers like the Dream Home help ensure these treatments and care are available to patients and their families.

“There’s so many charities out there. There’s so many people asking for money. And you never quite know how, how the organization actually uses it. And I can tell you for one that St. Jude is absolutely top notch,” said Gary.

Patients don’t pay a penny for medical care, housing, food or travel expenses.

“St. Jude provides for us so that I don’t even have to worry about that. And I could just enough and treasure the time I get to spend with my son and my wife,” said Gary.

You can help support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through the 2016 St. Jude Dream Home giveaway.

In Tennessee, tickets are available online, by phone at 1-800-750-6962 or at Regions Bank locations in Tennessee. Georgia residents can purchase tickets by phone or at a Regions Bank location in Tennessee.

Each ticket costs $100. A limited number of tickets are available and the past two giveaways have sold out early.

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is one of the largest single-event fundraisers for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. It generates more than $290 million for the research and treatment of childhood cancer.

For more information about the giveaway, visit the Chattanooga Dream Home website.

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