By Jesse Decker
To me, Team Up Montana is more than just a fundraiser that my mom, Alice Gardner, development officer for St. Patrick Hospital Foundation, helps organize. I’m devoted to the cause because at the age of 19, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I was naive— I never thought I could get cancer at that age.
After six rounds of chemotherapy at St. Patrick Hospital, my family and I traveled to Seattle for a bone marrow transplant. Even when I was told I had only a 14 percent chance of long-term survival, my family and I never gave up hope. I was by far the oldest person on the pediatric unit, and seeing the infants and toddlers around me battling the same disease made it easy not to feel sorry for myself. But, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for my family. Cancer affects more than just the patient, it’s such a burden on family, trying to take care of a loved one and keep it all together.
It’s been over 11 years and today I’m cancer-free, but I’ve still never forgotten how my family supported me when I needed them most, and how my mom is still supporting people fighting cancer in Montana. When my mom wears the Team Up Montana jersey, sells raffle tickets and encourages businesses to sponsor the event, I can’t help but be her biggest fan.