JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Terry Fletcher has worked at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for about 19 years. You could say he keeps things running.
“I manage our painting, plumbing and carpenter shops, as well as our data center, provide power and cooling for that,” he explains. “Part of the reason why I work here and have worked here for so long, is my brother was a patient here."
Back in the 1990′s, his teenage brother Eugene was treated at St. Jude for Ewing sarcoma, a cancer of the bones. Fletcher would often come to St. Jude with his family while his brother was undergoing those treatments He he says one of the things he noticed right away was how kind and caring the entire St. Jude staff was to his entire family. He says it made all the difference.
“Everything was provided. The food, lodging, travel, was all taken care of,” Fletcher remembers.
Eugene passed away in 1998, four years after his diagnosis. But through the experience, Terry felt an attachment to the hospital, which has helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened more than 50 years ago.
“Just the way my family was treated with dignity and respect, given hope,” he says. “Everyone thinks it’s a children’s cancer hospital and all these kids are going to be so sad, worn down. Absolutely not. These are just regular kids, just like anyone else. They’re wonderful to see, wonderful to be around.”