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Barry McKinney, age 8
Barry McKinney, age 8

Testimonial by Barry McKinney: St. Jude hospital makes little boy's story a happy one

By Barry McKinney
UTSA Director of Student Activities

Editor's Note: This story ran during last year's SECC, but because it is very moving, we decided it was important to post it again.

(Oct. 17, 2007)--This is a story of a three-year-old boy.

One Halloween, the little boy's grandma noticed a lump on his side. The following day, the boy was examined at a doctor's office, but no one was sure what caused the lump. After several months, doctors determined that the boy had Wilms' Tumor -- a malignant tumor of the kidney and other organs that strikes young children.

An operation removed the tumor along with the boy's left kidney. After radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer was thought to be gone, and the boy returned home. The boy's loving parents used every dime they had to pay for his treatments.

This is a story of an eight-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with cancer at age three. After hiding blackouts from his parents for weeks, he began to have flu-like symptoms. He was given penicillin, which made him feel better. However, while walking down the stairs at his house, the boy had another blackout, which he also hid from his parents -- you see, he didn't want to miss the spelling test he had that afternoon.

But after being at school for just a short time, he became sick. Instead of going to the doctor, he went straight to the hospital. Only this time, he went to the Midwest affiliate of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Again, the boy had Wilms' tumor.

The boy underwent 15 thoracentesis procedures (a needle is inserted into the chest to extract fluid) and was determined to need surgery. During surgery, St. Jude doctors removed a tumor that would fill a measuring cup from the chest cavity of the little boy. Again, the radiation and chemotherapy would start -- treatment that made the boy so sick he would vomit for up to 18 hours at a time.

At the time, there was only one other person in the world known to have survived a recurrent Wilms' tumor.

But, this time the boy's parents never had to worry about the cost of treatment. After a 30-day stay in a children's hospital where he received the most advanced cancer treatment, this family didn't have to pay one cent. At St. Jude all medical expenses are covered. Even the tutor who helped the boy catch up in school was funded. Not once during his hospital stay did the boy's family have to worry about putting food on the table or keeping the lights on. The boy's cancer was cured.

This is a story of a high school senior who at ages eight and three had fought a battle with a vicious cancer and won. After graduating third in his class, he went on to earn bachelor's and master's degrees. Currently, the boy is a doctoral candidate. Not once has he or his family had to pay a dime for his life-saving cancer treatments. Not once was anything expected of the boy and his family for this amazing medical attention.

This is a story of a man who will be a father in just a few months. This baby's father may not have been alive today were it not for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This is a story of a professional working at UTSA -- a professional who touches students' lives on a daily basis. His goal is to make a difference in the life of a student every day.

This is a story about me.

I know my colleagues across campus will do their part to ensure other success stories by donating to a favorite charity through the SECC. There are other families facing the same struggles as the boy in this story. Despite all the advances St. Jude has made in curing childhood cancers, the fact is that Wilms' tumor still kills 10 to 15 percent of its victims.

Whether it's funding the research and treatment of childhood cancers or some other worthy cause, your gift can make a difference to your colleagues, your neighbors and your family.

The State Employee Charitable Campaign runs through Oct. 19, 2007.

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Make plans to attend "UTSA's Got Talent," 9-10:30 a.m., Friday, Oct. 19 in the Business Building Richard Liu Auditorium (2.01.02), 1604 Campus. You won't see these acts on YouTube! Did you know that your boss can dance and sing? Come see UTSA's faculty and staff display their extroverted sides in a fun-filled event. If you are interested in participating or helping with the event, call (210) 458-5136. Your SECC donation is your ticket to this one-of-a-kind event.

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Want to donate online to SECC? Learn how to give at the eWay site.

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