METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Hundreds of children treated at St. Jude are living active normal lives, free of cancer.
A 12-year-old Metairie boy is inspired by his success at St. Jude and is living his dreams.
Brenden Maestri was 16-months-old when he was diagnosed with cancer.
"The Lions Club Foundation came over and took a picture of all of our eyes to make sure we were OK and the camera found something in my eye," said Brenden.
On March 8, 2007, something unusual was spotted in Brenden's left eye. A white spot that signaled an abnormality.
Dr. Reita Lawrence is Brenden's pediatrician.
"Have you ever seen a photograph of people getting red eye? We are looking for that red eye signal," Lawrence said. "That's a sign the retina is healthy and acting good, no blockages in between."
Brenden's parents took him that day to see Dr. George Ellis at Children's Hospital.
"He looked at the picture and looked in my eye and found what he thought was a tumor in my left eye," Brenden said.
Doctors diagnosed Brenden with Retinoblastoma. a malignant tumor of the retina.
Doctors agreed for that condition, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis was the best place for treatment.
"My parents had two choices," Brenden said. "They could take my eye or do chemotherapy. They chose chemo and I'm thankful."
Brenden received a round of chemo every three weeks. Six rounds of chemo in all.
Laser treatments followed. They, like other patients, never paid for any treatment.
"St. Jude is amazing, I love going there," Brenden said. "The doctors are really nice. Everyone really welcomes you there."
He visits the hospital only once a year now for checkups.
"The tumor is still there, but it's dead," he said."It's like a tiny little speck floating around."
"If they had not caught it when they did, they would probably have lost the left eye," Lawrence said. "The fact he can see at all out of his left eye is amazing."