MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At first sight, the Giuliani’s knew something was wrong with their son Drew.
“When he was born, we always thought his eye looked at little different,” said Heidi Giuliani, his mother.
But they weren’t prepared for a doctor’s diagnosis.
“I remember that day like it was yesterday,” Heidi said.
Drew, at 9 months old, had a rare form of eye cancer called Retinoblastoma. He had tumors in his eyes, four in the right and three in the left.
“There’s no words to describe that moment,” Heidi said. “It was just like we were blind-sided.”
Their doctor said there’s no help for him here in Minnesota. For the best care, they’d have to go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. It was a place the Giuliani family got to know well.
“We’ve been to Memphis well over 50 to 60 times,” said Anthony Giuliani, Drew’s father.
Over the next five years, Drew endured countless rounds of chemotherapy and painful procedures there. It took a special procedure every two weeks to finally get Drew’s cancer stable. Today, it is two years in remission.
“Baseball is hard because I can’t see the baseball as well,” Drew said.
Drew’s sight isn’t perfect. He lost central vision in one eye and there’s a chance the cancer could come back.
“They told us from day one that this would not be a sprint, this would be a marathon,” Heidi said.
But Drew only sees the things he can to do and he gives credit to St. Jude.
“They helped me with my cancer,” Drew said.
Now he wants to help the place that helped him. He’s set his sights on running the Grandma’s Marathon 5K race in Duluth. The money raised along the way will go to St. Jude.
“Now I’m going to help them back,” he said.
The obstacles Drew has overcome bring his parents to tears.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” Anthony said.
Now they can’t wait to see what Drew accomplishes next.
“I think he will find ways throughout his life to give back to the place that gave him life,” said Heidi.
Between travel and medical costs, the Giuliani’s estimate their expenses have exceeded well over $1 million. But they’ve never seen a bill. St. Jude pays for it all mostly through public donations.
That’s why Drew is raising money for St. Jude. Here’s how you can help Drew get to his goal.