Fifteen-year-old Sarah Burrichter just finished up her freshman year of high school in Lawrence.
Unlike other kids, she’s growing up with more than just homework and classes.
“I have a brain tumor and it happened when I was very little,” Burrichter said.
In October 2008, she was diagnosed with cancer before she even went to kindergarten.
“I look at that date sometimes as a defining moment in our family’s life,” said Kristine Burricheter, Sarah’s mother. “So before we found out about Sarah’s tumor or after. That’s how we’ve gauged what’s happened in our lives. So at 4-and-a-half years old, we were calling neurosurgeons around the country to try and figure out how we can solve this problem. We got to St. Jude through our neurosurgeon. He did the initial craniology on her, and said she would be a good candidate for St. Jude.”
Sarah and her family went to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee for a series of chemotherapy, radiation and surgical treatments.
“I had a lot of treatments,” Sarah said. “The surgery that I had was on my brain all over and also on my stomach.”
“Her tumor was deep in the left temporal lobe of her brain, and they were unable to completely resect it,” Kristine said. “So she had a partial resection of her tumor.”
Her last radiation treatment was in 2014, and Sarah’s tumor is stable today. She continues to go back to St. Jude every 6 months for a checkup.
“It’s such a really cool place to go and see what Danny Thomas has been doing for his own,” Sarah said.
“We are all on this journey and with Sara, and who she is has made it a gift in a way,” Kristine said. “She has taught me so much about patience, strength, and seeing the beauty in everything, despite what may be going on around you. She sees St. Jude as the best place on Earth. She goes and gets to see the doctors that she loves and has grown up with.”
Sarah adds, “They are really nice, kind, and sweet.”
“The complexity of Sarah’s tumor we couldn’t understand at the time. Looking back, the best decision that we’ve made is to be a part of St. Jude’s. I think that she is here in the capacity that she is, due to all the efforts of the team (at St. Jude) looking after her beyond our expectations,” Kristine says.
St. Jude brought hope to the Burrichter family and gave Sarah her life back. She is looking forward to her sophomore year of high school in the fall and says in the future she wants to work with animals.