ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – For most of us, Jan. 9 was just another day on the calendar. But, for a young man from Safety Harbor, that day was THE day to celebrate life.
TJ Redding said goodbye on Jan. 9, a bittersweet farewell to a lifetime of struggle, which would ultimately become a shining success story.
“It was a day I’ll tell my kids about, my last treatment,” said the young man.
At the tender age of 21-years-old, TJ has been a warrior, fighting since birth to stay alive after being diagnosed with a rare immune disorder as a newborn
He doesn’t produce the antibodies needed to stay healthy, so he’s had to get infusions every three weeks for the last two decades and because his body can’t fight infection, he’s been receiving life-saving treatment since the day he was born at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in downtown St. Petersburg.
The nurses and staff are now family.
He says they’ve gotten him through the darkest of times, which he admits were so bad, he thought about taking his own life.
“When they told me the tumor was eroding my skull, that’s when I thought I was going to die. I thought, why would I want to live through that? Why don’t I just end it myself,” TJ told 8 on your Side.
He says the one thing that stopped him? The love and support from his mom, as well as the nurses who have cared for him like a son.
“The people I surround myself with, without them, I would have did it. I swear. That’s why I’m so thankful in life. I don’t take nothing for granted. They saved my life, they really did,” he said.
On his last day of treatment, the nurses formed a conga line, dancing and celebrating in the hospital with their favorite patient, TJ, who led the crowd through the hospital.
This young man, filled with goodness and hope, had another reason to celebrate that day. On that last day of treatment, he turned 21. He couldn’t stop smiling as he hugged the staff who helped raise him, healing him in the very place he grew up – where he won the biggest battle of his life.
“If you get sick, you’ve got to fight, that’s what I’ve always learned. Don’t give up. Even when you feel like you’re beat, keep going. You always win with that type of mindset,” he said.