Imagine thinking your child has the flu and it turns out to be cancer down the spine. It happened to one Utica family when their son was only 6 years old.

It was September and the Reppel family was planning their annual vacation to New York City when their 6-year-old son Andrew began waking up at night, sick to his stomach. Visits to various hospitals resulted in diagnoses of catch-scratch fever, diabetes, and at one point even the flu.

With their son’s health not improving and after living at the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse for several weeks they finally received the news they feared.

"The doctor found me in the hallway and said 'it's cancer," Kerry Reppel said. "It was running between his brain and his spine. It was going up and down. Never seen in a child."

Second Opinion

Doctors wanted to operate immediately and cut his brain open but the Reppel family wanted time. Time to think. Time to research. They made 3 calls, one to Boston, one to Rochester, and one to St Jude.

"Within 24 hours I received a call back from St Jude and the doctor assured me, as a father I was doing the right thing, getting a second opinion," said Stephen.

St Jude Saves Life

The way the cancer was presenting itself a team of doctors at St Jude had to create a new protocol to treat Andrew. So the family sold their house, took their oldest son out of school, and flew to Memphis, Tennessee.

"My first thought was, why is everybody smiling? Why do people look happy here, when they have this horrible experience?" wondered Kerry. "And it's because they had hope. St Jude gives you hope."

That 6-year-old boy is now grown and the Reppel family owes it all to St Jude. "I guess what I felt was thank you. Thank you Danny Thomas for being a man who made a difference," says Stephen.

Kerry Reppel
Kerry Reppel

St Jude Shares

Danny Thomas may have started the dream but doctors and staff at St Jude carry it on. "The beauty is they share everything they create with all the other hospitals in the world. That's powerful."

A child should never have to suffer through cancer, but if the worst happens, the best answer is St Jude.

"I could not think of a better place to be. If you ever wondered if your dollar really did do what they say it does, I would tell you it does."

Become a Partner in Hope during our Country Cares Radiothon, presented by Drain Masters.

Call 800-995-5257 or donate online at St Jude.

Thank You Gifts

To thank you for supporting St Jude Children's Research Hospital and becoming a Partner in Hope you'll have the honor of joining the country community with a 'This Shirt Saves Live ' t-shirt AND a We Won't Stop hoodie. The first 100 Partners in Hope will get their choice of 2 vouchers to any Utica Comets hockey game this season or Hoffman Car Wash. One lucky person will win tickets to see Brooks & Dunn at SPAC.

Meet the Patients of St Jude Your Donation Helps Save

Meet the patients of St Jude Children's Research Hospital that your monthly Partner in Hope donations helps save.

Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams

Country Stars Put on St. Jude's 'Love Music, Stop Cancer' Tees

Kane Brown, Gabby Barrett, Carrie Underwood and more stars show off their 'Love Music, Stop Cancer' shirts to support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

More From Big Frog 104