the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was established in 1955, children with cystic
fibrosis (CF) rarely lived long enough to attend elementary school. Due in
large part to the CF Foundation's aggressive investments in innovative research
and comprehensive care, many people with the disease can now expect to live
into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
In August 2006, Heather Ziegler was busily preparing to move her family to Japan. The time had come for Heather and her children to join her husband, Chief Petty Officer Scott Ziegler, a 19-year veteran of the Navy, in Japan where he had been stationed for more than a year. It was during that hectic summer Heather noticed a lump on her son Roman’s neck.
In August 2006, Heather Ziegler was busily preparing to move her family to Japan. The time had come for Heather and her children to join her husband, Chief Petty Officer Scott Ziegler, a 19-year veteran of the Navy, in Japan where he had been stationed for more than a year. It was during that hectic summer Heather noticed a lump on her son Roman’s neck. Trips to the doctor provided no insight into the lump, and Heather was told that it was nothing to worry about.
As the family began the overseas medical screening process, the mass on Roman’s neck began to grow larger. Heather knew then it was definitely something of great concern. Doctors removed the mass and identified it as Hodgkin disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes.
Roman’s father, Scott, remembers receiving the phone call from Heather that he describes as “the worst phone call a parent could get.” Scott recalled, “You hear ‘cancer’ and you immediately think the worst.”
Roman was referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for treatment. Doctors discovered the cancer had spread to two additional places on Roman’s neck and to lymph nodes underneath his arm.
Soon, Scott came back to the United States and was stationed at a base near the hospital in Memphis, Tenn. When Scott rejoined his family for Roman’s treatment, he knew that St. Jude would take care of Roman. “The first day was an eye opening experience. The whole family was welcomed, not just Roman,” said Scott. “One of our nurses even found another patient with the same diagnosis so Heather and I could meet the family.”
Roman endured 12 weeks of chemotherapy and 10 rounds of radiation. Today, Roman is cancer free. He returns to St. Jude every 6-8 weeks for checkups. Scott is grateful to St. Jude for saving the life of his only son.
“The Navy is based on family. The majority of the Navy has children and you never know when you may need help from organizations like St. Jude,” said Scott. “As a parent you always assume your child will be healthy. You never know when it will affect you personally. Thank God for St. Jude. My son is a success story… he is a miracle.”