BILLINGS - How can a state-of-the-art cancer treatment hospital 1,700 miles away from Billings save the lives of Montana children?
The answer is simple: Through its research.
It’s been 18 years since Alan Loomis of Billings was diagnosed with leukemia.
"I was 12 and in 6th grade,” he said.
For four years he fought through treatment. He has the beads to prove it, each representing a cancer treatment milestone.
But as a child, Alan says, cancer was already known to his family.
“We had dealt with some leukemia in the family before,” he said.
Due to a rare chromosome, his type of cancer couldn’t be treated with regular chemo.
And that’s when St. Jude Children's Research Hospital stepped in.
"I had to be on a special protocol, and one of those things on that protocol was you had to take a daily, five-pill chemotherapy. And it was like 500 bucks a pill,” Alan said.
Those pills weren’t covered by insurance.
"So every day you are taking $2,500, and St. Jude paid for that,” he said.
When you do the math, that’s nearly $3.6 million in chemo alone, all covered by St. Jude.
Cancer treatment has its ups and downs, taking a toll on any family, Alan's mom Tammy says her son kept her strong.
"If he hadn’t had that strength I don’t know if we could have made it or not, but he had that strength," she said. "So we knew we had to be strong because he was strong.”
The experimental treatment from St. Jude that Alan was on paid off and he beat cancer in 2009.
Alan has never been to the incredible research hospital at St. Jude in Tennessee. Instead, research came to him.
"They learn successes and sometimes failures along the way and that’s what research is, they learn what works and they keep using that for the next child and the next child after that,” said Alan's father, Todd. "You never know if it's going to affect someone in your community or your family, and even though you don’t go there, the treatment protocols do come, and they share their information.”
Through his four-year cancer battle, researchers were able to better his treatment, improving the odds for him and those still fighting.
Alan says it's what St. Jude does, save lives.
"When you do research hopefully the next person who has to go through it, is better off than what you were,” he said.
Click here to learn how you can help through a donation during the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway.
As of Wednesday, 6,100 tickets to win the dream home have been sold, and about 1,400 are still available.
Reserve your St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway tickets by calling (800) 592-1621 or at www.dreamhome.org. Watch KTVQ on April 13 to see who wins.