Every holiday season, 9-year-old Isaac Meadows proudly displays a Cardinals-themed Christmas tree, custom-designed for him by St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Isaac is one of many children who has received a personalized tree at the foundation’s Children’s Holiday Festival, developed in 2008 to increase awareness and raise funds for the hospital’s programs and services. This year's event will take place Dec. 8 at Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel. The night filled with festive entertainment is always a memorable highlight for Isaac and his family. But his holidays were not always so bright.
As a baby, Isaac suffered from constant colds. His mother, Lisa Meadows, who also is a nurse at Children’s, first attributed his illnesses to cold weather and a bustling day care center. But when his condition persisted and worsened, Isaac was referred to Children’s for further tests. During the winter of 2004 while still an infant, Isaac was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia.
From the first day of his diagnosis, hospital staff rallied around the Meadows family. “When something like this happens, you’re in a fog and you have no time,” Lisa says. “My whole department would deliver me dinners every day to help my family and even come to my house to do bills.” The staff’s connection with her son also was immediate, she adds. “How they work with children is above the bar. This type of diagnosis is scary, especially for a child. They would ease his fears and make him comfortable.”
After three years of chemotherapy and five years of remission, Isaac is now considered cured. “Even now, I go out of my way to get his labs drawn at Children’s,” Lisa says. And her son still refers to Children’s as “his hospital.” “The staff is patient, understanding and committed to patients,” she notes. “You cannot replace that.”
As a five-year cancer survivor, Isaac gladly gives back to the hospital that helped save his life. His involvement has included promoting the Children’s Holiday Festival at his school. Through his experience, Lisa says her son has learned how important it is to give back. “You never know when your family could be the one in need.”