St. Jude success story: Alleigh Perkins

Alleigh Perkins was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys, when she was 6. She’s now 8.

GRAVES COUNTY, KY — Adults can learn a lot from kids. Alleigh Perkins of Graves County, Kentucky, taught her parents about determination and a positive outlook.

When she was 6, doctors diagnosed her with the most common type of kidney cancer among children. What followed was surgery and weeks of treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Alleigh is now 8, a cancer survivor and thriving.

Alleigh’s parents, Brian and Ashley Perkins, recall the day they learned of their daughter’s cancer diagnosis.

Her parents, Brian and Ashley Perkins, said it’s been a long road to get to this day. They remember the day Alleigh was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, which is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys. Alleigh’s tumor was the size of a deflated volleyball.

“And I mean, it was like a smack in the face,” Ashley said.

“She calls me and says they found a mass on her kidney, and I just lost it. What else do you do?” Brian remembered.

What they did was pack their bags and travel to St. Jude for treatment. Every step of the way, a St. Jude doctor, nurse or staff member made things easier on everyone, especially Alleigh’s doctor.

Alleigh Perkins and her mother Ashley on the campus of St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee.

“She went through the seven-and-a-half hour surgery. She went through 15 rounds of chemo, six rounds of radiation. I mean eight rounds of radiation,” Ashley said.

“When (the doctor) walks in there, the focus is not on mommy and daddy, telling mommy and daddy. She walks in and grabs her hand, ‘Hey, Alliegh!’ She’ll get up on the table, sits down with her like that’s her best friend right there,” Brian said.

“Those people are just born to work there,” Ashley added.

St. Jude families, like the Perkinses, can focus on what matters most: treatment. That’s instead of worrying about how to pay for the medical care. St. Jude families never pay a single cent for treatment, and that’s in part thanks to your support when you buy a ticket for a chance to win the St. Jude Dream Home.

Alleigh, Ashley and Brian seen here at St. Jude.

The Perkins family gives back, too. They sponsor fundraising events like the Donkey Basketball Tournament held earlier this year. They also organize the annual Kicking for St. Jude Kickball Tournament. Every year, people in Wingo, Kentucky, and the surrounding area are eager to form a team to help raise money for St. Jude.

“You never expect it to be you, and you think ‘This won’t happen to our family. This won’t happen to my kids. They’re healthy, they’re active, they’re smart,'” Ashley said.

But, as these parents learned, a cancer diagnosis can happen to anyone. And that’s when St. Jude comes to the rescue. “They’re a miracle hospital,” Brian said. “St. Jude is like our second home. I mean, it’s family. Your nurses, your doctors, the gift shop ladies, the cafeteria people —they know you,” Ashley added.

And they know St. Jude can provide hope and light in a family’s darkest hours. Alleigh will continue regular check-ups at for the next several years. At this point, her parents said, Alleigh’s considered NEAD which stands for No Evidence of Active Disease.

To learn more about the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway and ways to buy a ticket click here.