Article - One last Christmas together

One last Christmas together

After returning from war, Zachary was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Posted: Wed, May 4, 2011

"Our son came back from Iraq at 24 a soldier. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and spent the next two years in a hell far greater than the war he had come from."

In a touching video,Ann St. John of Bloomington, Ind., talks about how she will never forget the people at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the top-notch care they gave her son, Zachary May.

He would have died the night they airlifted him to the medical center from Bloomington, she says, had it not been for them. Instead, she says, those people, along with the medical center's cutting-edge lymphoma researchers, extended Zachary's life for a year. He died May 4, 2008.

Ann will never forget that year, and the gift of one last Christmas together.

"That Christmas morning, I wrote a letter to the fundraisers in Omaha, and I said, ‘Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for the research dollars that you gave 10, 20, 30 years ago. Because without those research dollars, I would not be spending Christmas with my boy."

A cancer survivor herself now, Ann believes research dollars will one day win the war against lymphoma. She's a donor to UNMC and encourages others to do the same.

"I'm not asking for help for my family," Ann says. "We've already been helped. I'm asking for help for those people in the future – for your family members, for the people you love.

"Sometimes I get angry when I look at the T-shirts that say, ‘We're going to outrun cancer.' We're not going to outrun cancer – we're going to out-research cancer."

If you'd like to support funds that go to leukemia and lymphoma research at UNMC, including the Hematological Malignancies Fund or the Team Zachary Cancer Research Fund, give online or call Tom Thompson at 800-432-3216.

To remain a leader in the war against cancer, UNMC aims to obtain the National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center designation by 2020. Visit for more information.

With your support, the possibilities for realizing more effective treatments – and even a cure – are unlimited.


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