I would like to introduce you to a brave and inspirational young man, my son, Matthew. He was just 13 years old, but he made more of an impact in his 13 years here on this Earth than most people make in a full lifetime.
Matthew was “all boy”. He loved spending time with his family and friends and playing video games. He excelled in school, was active on Student Council, and played the trumpet in his school’s band and jazz band. Then, on March 13, 2012, our world was turned upside down when Matthew was diagnosed with ETP-ALL leukemia.
Our family was thrust into another world, one where terms like hemoglobin, blast cells, platelets, and ANC were common in our everyday language. We had to learn to live with a “new normal”. We were told that Matthew’s form of leukemia was a more aggressive and rare type of cancer, requiring a bone marrow transplant once the cancer cells were under control.
He underwent chemotherapy and radiation. A horrific and unimaginable experience, especially for a child.
Once Matthew got to bone marrow transplant things became progressively worse. He suffered from stage 4 graft vs. host disease and just about every complication that can be had from a bone marrow transplant. He was placed on a ventilator three times and had large, painful blisters over the majority of his body.
Through it all, Matthew remained strong and positive in his attitude. He never once asked “why me” or questioned what was happening. He was always polite, thanking the nurses and the doctors who were helping him in his treatments. He even prayed for other children who were going through treatments and transplant just like he was.
As a parent, my heart was breaking. No child should ever have to go through radiation or chemotherapy. No child should ever be exposed to the type of situation that my son and many other children must face every day. Yet, Matthew helped me to be strong, to have faith, and to always find the good in things. Even as his physical condition was getting worse, he always had a smile on his face and love to give.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 23, 2012, Matthew went from his Mother’s arms into the arms of Jesus. His courageous battle was finished.The lives that Matthew touched will never be the same. He taught us to laugh through the tears, to be strong when you feel there is no strength left, to be brave when inside you are shaking with fear, and to put your trust in things unseen.
I miss the laughter, the smiles, and the happiness that once filled my life. A precious young man is gone to Heaven, but not forgotten.
The other day I saw a photo in support of childhood cancer awareness…it says, “Some people never get to meet their hero. I gave birth to mine.” Those words have never been more true…