We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month”.
Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.
“We’ve come a long way but St. Jude has vowed to keep going until no family hears those words, “you have cancer”. We are all trying to work ourselves out of a job, that would be the best-case scenario is have to figure something else out to do.”
Over the past two years, we have interviewed so many inspiring women for this feature, but Jessica Turri has touched our lives and our hearts in a special way. To tell her story, we must go back to when she was nine years old and after a bunch of tests, she heard the dreaded words, “you have cancer” and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “I remember the moment when I heard it was cancer, I asked that stupid question, ‘Why Me?’ I remember laying on my bathroom floor and everything as I knew it was gone forever,” Turri explains. Her neighbor came over that night, who had struggled through childhood cancer herself, said “Why not you?” and that changed her outlook. “That was really monumental for me, so we started the next day, positive and I knew I had no choice but to make it through in the best way possible.”
125 weeks of chemotherapy absolutely put Turri and her entire family through ups and downs but St. Jude truly became a home, providing the best care and never sending her family, or any family for that matter a bill. She tells us about one special memory, about two years into her treatment during Country Cares, an event where Nashville’s biggest artists travel to Memphis to meet with patients and their families. “I was really sick, spending time by myself in the corner and this sweet little lady came to sit down with me and asked what where I was from and what I liked to do and she told me she was from Kansas, and long story short it ended up being Martina McBride.” After that day, she asked her dad if they could go to the library and check out her music, her favorite song being “Happy Girl”, a track that became her mantra and got her through those dark days. “St. Jude was the best thing that has ever happened to me, it’s strange to say that but the doctors and nurses became my family and we are still close to this day. It became a part of me and everything that I am,” she explains.
After finishing chemotherapy in 2000, Turri has gone on to live a full, amazing life she says. She went to school for broadcast journalism and after graduating college was a producer at the NBC affiliate in Nashville. She loved her job but felt there was a part of her that wasn’t being fulfilled, she was missing a big calling in her life. After participating in a benefit for St. Jude the CEO asked if she would ever consider “coming home” to work at St. Jude, twelve years after she was a patient there. “The opportunity became available to be able to give back, work for St. Jude and to do it in this city that I am so crazy about,” she tells us. “My dream job, basically.”
Currently, Turri works on the Country Cares Team for St. Jude, she works closely with the radio partners who run events benefitting the hospital and their research. She was a main component in the “This Shirt Saves Lives” campaign which is about to kick off its 3rd year. The Country Cares initiative came about 30 years ago when Randy Owen of Alabama stood up during Country Radio Seminar and rallied the country music community to come together and support the children of St. Jude and the mission they hold so dear.
Turri tells us that one of the best parts of her job is experiencing the beautiful moments between patients and artists behind the curtain, seeing how big the hearts are in this industry. “I get to see Luke Bryan go sit with a patient and invite him to a special experience, just to make that kids day,” she emotes. “It’s a full-circle moment for sure because that did change me because that happened to me as a child and it is really cool to get to witness that and see what it does to just bring bright spots to these families who are going through the darkest of times.”
As usual, we ended our incredible conversation with any advice she has, for working towards a dream job or how to remain inspired in times of darkness. “Figuring out what your talents are and finding a way to do that for good, finding what your passions are, find a place where you can use your heart and bring good no matter where you end up working, I think that was key for finding my career path,” she explained.
Along with the wonderful team at St. Jude, Jessica Turri is working to change patient’s lives, the way her life was once changed. The money that is raised for St. Jude doesn’t only directly support the current patients and their families but also research labs that are constantly looking to not only cure cancer but other deadly diseases affecting our world. St. Jude shares their research freely with hospitals all over the country and has become a true resource for doctors who have run out of options and need extra help supporting children.
You can join the #ThisShirtSavesLives movement and get your own shirt at thisshirtsaveslives.org
To keep up with Jessica Turri follow along on Instagram.
The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.
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