Saturday, July 14, 2012

I wonder if St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is like the interstates that run through Birmingham, Alabama, where something is always under construction. There is a massive hole behind the main building that can be seen from the picture windows of the cafeteria. I mean like the kind of hole that multiple trucks drive in and out and turn around in. The current construction project is a seven-story addition to an existing building, according to a March article in The Daily News. The article doesn’t elaborate clearly, but the existing building must be the original main building. The $190 million project will house more research labs and programs, the article said, but will also allow the aging ICU to be updated, add operating rooms and enlarge teaching and collaborating facilities. But, the crown jewel will be a proton-beam therapy center. After perusing the National Association for Proton Therapy website, I learned that proton-beam therapy fires protons at tumors using a combination of nuclear technology and magnets. Unlike common X-ray radiation, doctors can target these tiny proton beams at a higher dose to specific diseased cells with less damage to surrounding healthy cells, reducing side effects during and after treatment. This is especially important to brain tumor children who are still growing healthy tissue in the targeted areas that are essential for cognitive and motor development. So, the massive hole will be lined with concrete walls to shield the harmful radiation from the environment and house the machinery that, according to a 2008 article about proton therapy in U.S. News, needs a football-field size building that is several stories high. With this proton-therapy center, St. Jude will join 10 other centers currently operating in the world, according to NAPT website. The tower began on the completion heels of the Chili’s Care Center which was added to the patient complex only a couple of years ago. Finally, finally, we got to see Eli today. We slept late after a horrible night of Abbey and Caleb getting up and waking up multiple times respectively. Oddly, if Caleb doesn’t get a nap, he is up a lot during the night. Then with the massive exit of jets from the nearby airport at about 230 a.m. (which is a nightly thing), we had a rough night. But, we were able to go see Madagascar 3, which Eli has wanted to see since it was first advertised, and that would have been back in like March or April, I guess. He was very excited to get to go. Then we went to Toys R Us to exchange a video game for an xbox or dsi game and called it an evening. He seems to be doing very well, I say with guarded optimism. I hope to go to church at Goodman Oaks in the morning since it is close by, but it is going to be a challenge to get all of us ready and on time. I have no iron either, so if you go to church there, and see us, yes, we did just pull it out of a suitcase. The picture tonight was obviously taken a long time ago, back at the end of January or in February, I guess, during Eli’s radiation treatments, but it is Eli walking up toward the front of the main building which we go in for him to register each day he has appointments.

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