As an editor, I've been lucky enough to take many trips to cool and exotic locales for stories. But my recent trip to Memphis with Lancôme to check out St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is by far the most special, and one that I will never forget.
You're probably most familiar with St. Jude from their television ad campaign with stars like Jennifer Aniston (or the one that airs in movie theaters before the previews)—at least there's where most of my knowledge came from. I knew that it was a hospital that treated children with all types of cancers, and that it operated on donations. What I did not understand was the scope of care given to every patient and family at St. Jude and that they literally don't pay a dime—making those donations vital.
During our visit to the hospital, I learned what a truly special place it is. Prior to arriving, I kept thinking the entire day would be a "tour of tears". But while there are obviously loads of sick children fighting for their lives, it's truly a place of hope, which might sound cheesy but is totally true. Our first tour guide, Lindsay, was a patient as a child. (Check out her story here.) The facilities are state of the art, but they also don't feel (or smell) like a hospital. The walls are bright and colorful and filled with the artwork of patients. Little ones are transported in wagons instead of wheelchairs instead of wheelchairs. And I've never seen a nicer, more upbeat staff—let alone one in a hospital.
We also got to check out Target House, where families when a child is there for long-term care. And let's just say it was pretty darn incredible. The families have their own two bedroom apartments and the group activities and amenities are all meant to give them some sense of normalcy. In meeting kids (we did arts and crafts!) and their parents throughout the day, this is something that very obviously makes St. Jude stand out. When you see that certain little sparkle in a child's eye (like my new friend Allison pictured below), despite the fact that he/she has scars from various surgeries and a bald head from chemo, you know somebody's doing something right.
Before we even got to the research lab (another huge part of what goes on at St. Jude), I was ready to give them all my money. And then I got to get my nerd on and learn about the amazing research they're doing to help cure childhood cancers and other pediatric diseases. Oh, you know they're just mapping out the genomes of tumors and stuff. No big deal.
Lancôme started their partnership with St. Jude last year and it was that love of research that originally brought the two together. Serge Jureidini, president of Lancôme USA, says "We're proud to join forces with St. Jude for the second year in a row. St. Jude is an organization that shares Lancôme's commitment to groundbreaking research and we're committed to supporting the cause for years to come."
For the second year in row, Lancôme is celebrating Genes Day. On October 21st, the company will donate $7 foam the sale of every bottle of Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate (a genius skincare product!) to St. Jude, along with hosting special events and promotions nationwide the entire month of October. You can shop at your local Lancôme counter or at lancome-usa.com.
Needless to say, I will be buying a bottle and encourage you to do the same to help meet the goal of $300,000 in one day. It actually costs about $1.7 MILLION to run St. Jude for one day…and none of that money comes from the families (and no one under 18 who has a disease they treat at the hospital is turned away.)
And if you ever get the chance to visit this special hospital that Danny Thomas created, I suggest you take it. You'll be forever changed.
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