MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WSAV) – Tickets are trending toward a sell-out for the St. Jude Dream Home giveaway.

On a recent trip to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, News 3 sat down with an Australian researcher who says that your donations make all the difference in saving lives.

Dr. Kathryn Roberts studied leukemia as a doctorate student and wanted to continue her studies when she came to St. Jude.

“It’s the most common childhood cancer and it’s caused by the proliferation of white blood cells,” she explained. “We think of cancer sometimes as a solid tumor, but leukemia is actually a proliferation of the cells in the circulation.”

Roberts says cure rates have improved significantly in the last couple of decades thanks to research at St. Jude.

“But there are a significant number of children who still fail treatment and relapse,” she added, “and because it is so common, it is still one of the leading causes of death related to childhood cancer. 

“So we still think it’s very important to study this disease because it affects so many children.”

Roberts’ research is focused on understanding the genetic differences in a child that has leukemia versus normal cells.

“What genetic alterations contribute to the development of leukemia in the first place?” she said. “And then I think what’s a really important question in leukemia, in particular, is why do some children fail treatment?”

The ultimate goal, she says, is the development of targeted therapy that specifically treats whatever alterations are particular to that child.

How research is helping worldwide

One of the key facts about St. Jude is that the discoveries made at the research hospital are shared so the whole world can benefit.

“It not only impacts the children that are being treated at St. Jude, but we now bring in all of our collaborators from Australia, Canada, Europe, China, Asia, South America to share our knowledge and include those countries in our studies,” Roberts said.

The collaboration was essential for one leukemia patient in Brazil.

“This doctor from Brazil said in her email that your research on this type of leukemia guided us to cure this patient,” Roberts said, adding, “It truly is impacting children all over the world.”

Roberts said donor dollars ensure that St. Jude has cutting-edge facilities that allow doctors to ask the difficult questions in research without wondering too much about funding.

“And I think when we ask those difficult questions, that’s what really accelerates discovery in science and research,” she added.

“We are going to continue until every child with cancer is cured and beyond,” Roberts said. “You know, it’s important to find a cure, but the next phase is how do we improve those children’s quality of life after they are cured? So there is still more work to do.”

Those who buy a ticket for the 2023 St. Jude Dream Home by Friday, May 19, will be entered into a separate drawing for a $10,000 shopping spree to Ashley Furniture.

Georgia residents have two ways to enter: You can reserve a ticket online or call 800-383-9844 to reserve your $100 ticket. South Carolina residents (and anyone else in the country who wants to purchase a ticket) must call the number to enter, any time of day.