Brooklyn Ray is a healthy 23-year-old woman, but her story could have been different had it not been for St. Jude and Our Lady of the Lake Children's Health's Baton Rouge Affiliate Clinic led by Dr. Sheila Moore back in its early days nearly 20 years ago.
In 2001 and at only 5 years old, Brooklyn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
She and her mom traveled to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis the evening of her diagnosis and stayed there for several months. Fortunately for their family, the St. Jude Baton Rouge Affiliate Clinic had opened a few years prior in 1998. Brooklyn was able to return home and begin treatment there.
For two-and-a-half years, Brooklyn received treatment in both Baton Rouge and Memphis, until she was finally cancer free at age 8. She has had no signs of cancer since.
Brooklyn has kept in touch with Dr. Moore throughout the years, including hand delivering an invitation to her high school graduation to the clinic in 2013. But five years passed since the two saw each other prior to a meeting coordinated for this story.
“Seeing Dr. Moore today was so exciting, and my heart was racing,” said Brooklyn. “She was always so kind-hearted, and she made me feel like I was going to pull through it.”
Brooklyn’s future is bright. She no longer has regular appointments at St. Jude, though she has agreed to be part of a research study to help other kids with cancer. She travels to Memphis every 5 years to participate.
This experience also inspired Brooklyn to become a nurse. She is currently taking her pre-requisite courses at Baton Rouge Community College and plans to apply to nursing school when those are complete. While she is not sure exactly what kind of nurse she will become, she would love to work with pediatric cancer patients.
Brooklyn’s battle with cancer had a happy ending, and she has used the lessons she learned during treatment to lead a positive, happy life.
“Going through something like that gives you hope,” she said. “It’s like, if you can overcome something like cancer, you can overcome anything that comes your way.”