Doctor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital works with survivors long after they win the battle

Updated: Mar. 26, 2020 at 8:16 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Finding cures, saving children.

That’s the sole mission at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital -- a mission the entire medical staff works to accomplish daily.

One of those dedicated team members is Dr. Tim Folse.

“The care here is unbelievable, just world class,” said Folse.

Before joining St. Jude in 2008, Folse practiced family medicine for 20 years. He says his job at the hospital has basically been a whole new world.

“I’ve learned so much that I had no knowledge of before coming here and I get a chance to teach that to our survivors, but also to students, residents, fellows and doctors from around the world, so it’s exciting," said Folse.

Folse evaluates former St. Jude patients who are now receiving care at the life clinics. He says to accurately assess what’s going on, his team needed to study patients long after treatment.

“Now we have over 5,000 adult survivors of childhood cancer coming back every five years, three to four days of testing, looking at pretty much everything that’s going on with them -- neurocognitively, cardiac pulmonary, fertility, their fitness. You name it, we’re looking at it," said Folse.

He says throughout his career, he’s seen an incredible increase in survivor-ship, which makes job all the more rewarding.

“When I finished medical school, there may have been 30,000 adult survivors of childhood cancer in the U.S.," said Folse. "Now there’s half a million.“

Through a twist of fate, he encountered one survivor who will always be dear to his heart.

“My dad is a retired family physician from rural Mississippi. I had been here 11 months and walked into a room to meet a 37-year-old survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I cleaned my hands, walk in, shake hands, good old southern boy, and I shook his hand and told him my name and he held onto my hand and he says ‘is your dad a doctor in south Mississippi’ and I went yea, and he said ‘he diagnosed my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 30 years ago’, and it affected me. Special bond, and it’s just one of those things you can’t explain but it meant a great deal to me.”

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