What a difference one year makes.
On June 26, 2018, Charlie Smart was as sick as he had ever been. Bald, weak and unable to speak because chemotherapy had made his mouth too sore, he lay silently in his bed in the Riley Cancer Center. Everything went quiet and emotions flooded the room. As Charlie’s sister Lucy held his hand, her stem cells began flowing into his body through an IV. Her gift was Charlie’s best chance to beat his high-risk form of leukemia. And that’s exactly what he did.
On June 26, 2019, the Smart family, their friends and Riley Hospital staff members gathered around Charlie and Lucy as he rang the victory bell. His cancer is gone. His treatment is over. Then, they walked across to Riley’s donor-funded research facility, the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, and saw what it looks like when hope happens in the lab. Charlie and his family met cancer investigators including Sophie Paczesny, M.D., Ph.D., who are leading a biomarker study that he is enrolled in. “Charlie is alive because of research and the funding that goes into research,” said his mother Julie Smart. Her husband Joe added, “Often when you donate money to different things, you hope it’s going to a good cause. We got to see firsthand that donations are making a difference. The experience helped me understand better how beneficial donations are to the future of this horrible disease.”