Helping St. Jude Scientists LEARN
Philanthropy | March 21, 2016

As Tri Delta continues to help scientists LEARN through our fundraising efforts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, we had the opportunity to hear from a fellow sister, Zsila Sadighi, MD, Texas A&M, about the impact Tri Delta has had on her academic, personal and professional life.

We all know that we couldn’t be Tri Delta members without first being students. How did your Tri Delta membership impact your academic excellence in college? How did your sisters help shape and support your dream of becoming a doctor?

As a brain tumor survivor at age 17, my career goal was to become a physician and passionately give back and serve others. Tri Delta’s philanthropic focus on children’s cancer charities attracted me to Tri Delta when going through recruitment, and their focus on academic excellence and community leadership assured me that I could continue to pursue my passion as a member. I am grateful for the support Tri Delta gave me in learning and leading throughout my undergraduate studies as it prepared me for my life after graduation. My collegiate sisters continued to support me throughout my medical training with a shared, perpetual bond of friendship and endless encouragement. Today, I am working for St. Jude as a pediatric neuro-oncologist because of the endless support of my sisters and the inspiration that came from Tri Delta’s commitment to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

College and post-graduate work is a thrilling opportunity, but it carries with it a huge financial commitment. What role did Tri Delta’s Foundation play in assisting you with your academic endeavors?

The Tri Delta Foundation was established as a means to assist our members in every possible way. I understand first-hand how the Foundation assists sisters each year as I received a scholarship during my medical school training to help off-set the burdensome cost. This afforded me an opportunity to continue pursuing my medical training and become the physician I am today. I am so grateful for the Tri Delta Foundation and how it assists our sisters in fulfilling their dreams.

In working at St. Jude each day as a pediatric neuro-oncologist, how have you experienced the impact of Tri Delta dollars in helping scientists learn and doctors provide care to patients and families?

During my time at St. Jude, I have been honored to see the impact Tri Delta is making for the patients and families at St. Jude. Tri Delta pledged the single largest donation in the history of the hospital — $60 million in 10 years. This fundraising is giving my patients a place to sleep — in comfortable housing at Tri Delta Place — when they come to St. Jude. From previous fundraising commitments, Tri Delta has made a huge impact on the hospital — providing a patient care inpatient unit, a teen room for young adults to relax in and a subspecialty clinic that I personally work in. Due to the fundraising efforts of Tri Delta, I can order the appropriate medical tests my patients need and give them the best treatment options without worrying about limitations through insurance or lack of affordable healthcare. I always share with my patients that I am a Tri Delta and that we as a sisterhood are collectively raising money to help St. Jude find cures for them. I want them to know it is my passion to provide healthcare at no cost and to provide the best research to cure them so they can fulfill their passions one day as survivors.

There are lots of exciting new things happening at the hospital. What are Tri Delta dollars helping to provide in regards to the latest research and treatments at St. Jude?

Tri Delta dollars are funding the most cutting-edge research in the world. Because of Tri Delta’s partnership with St. Jude, the hospital is able to afford projects like the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, where patients will get genetic testing to see which molecular markers or genes are activating their cancer. We then have laboratory research under the same roof that is creating drugs to attack those specific genetic mutations in hopes of stopping the cancer from growing. I have seen my patients’ tumors successfully respond to these new drug therapies. It is incredibly exiting that Tri Delta can be a part of such important research! St. Jude also has the world’s first proton beam therapy dedicated specifically for children. Our patients will have radiation therapy that targets the brain tumors specifically and spares healthy tissue, limiting adverse effects of radiation. Finally, Tri Delta dollars are expanding our survivorship program to bring survivors back to the hospital throughout their lives and continue helping them after their cancer has been cured. Tri Delta dollars are making an impact in the daily lives of patients, and their life after cancer as well!

About Dr. Zsila:

Zsila Sadighi began her Tri Delta journey at Texas A&M University, and after her undergraduate studies, attended University of Texas at Houston for Medical School. Zsila completed her residency in pediatrics and fellowship in child & adolescent neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center and fellowship in adult & pediatric neuro-oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Zsila now serves as a pediatric neurologist and pediatric neuro-oncologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she sees patients who have neurological complaints or complications from their cancer treatment and treats patients with brain and spinal cord tumors.

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