St. Jude success story grows up to be a doctor

Matt DiVeronica at St. Jude in Memphis. (Courtesy: KOIN)
Matt DiVeronica at St. Jude in Memphis. (Courtesy: KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Most people have seen the commercials for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but you may not know they help a lot of kids in the Portland area.

One doctor at the VA hospital in Portland is one of their success stories, having survived a deadly cancer at a young age.

Matt DiVeronica hardly remembers going through treatment for stage 4 neuroblastoma — he was only 14 months old when he was diagnosed.

“I had fevers multiple times in a week and developed a bulge under my right eye,” DiVeronica said.

At the time, his family lived in Florida, but they were referred to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis for his treatment.

“That’s why I went to St. Jude,” he said. “Even then they told my parents I had a 50/50 chance of surviving.”

The hospital in Memphis brings in children with catastrophic diseases from around the country, including many from Oregon and Washington. Everything from the flights to treatments and lodging is paid for by St. Jude.

DiVeronica says St. Jude provides “not just the hope, but also making it financially possible for those families.”

The time he spent at St. Jude made DiVeronica want to pursue a career as a doctor. Now he’s in internist, giving back to the profession that saved his life.

“The medical setting was very familiar for me.” DiVeronica said. “I was always intrigued by the science going on, what they were testing for definitely steered me down the pathway.”