Matthew's Story

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AUGUST TO SEPTEMBER 1997 -- RECOVERY

Between hospital stays and medicines, Lynn and Matthew came to Stromsburg most weekends. Quite often we went to a friend’s farm. Matthew enjoyed hunting eggs and even got to steer the tractor and the Bob Cat. The main attraction, though, was the cat family. In July, Matthew picked out the friendliest kitten, a tortoise shell. He named it Duncan Duke, later shortened to Duncan. This was an unusual name for a female cat. Duncan is now the fourth member of the Dave Goering family and sleeps with Matthew every night.

It was a thrill for Matthew when our friend who works for John Deere took him for a ride in a huge articulated John Deere tractor. Our friend said, "Any kid that knows what ‘articulated’ means deserves a special ride."

From the April 9th transplant up to the end of July, Matthew lacked his usual energy level. However, he managed to take part in many normal activities. On May Day, he presented May baskets to his favorite construction worker friends.

Matthew was also always anxious to return to day care to see all of his friends there. He was able to go to day care most of the time that he wasn’t in the hospital.

Dave’s friend, Ron, gave Matthew a big bunch of fireworks. Although Matthew looked forward to a July 4th visit to the lake, he was too tired to stay for the fireworks. We returned to Stromsburg and he and Dave shot off the fireworks there.

Even with all of the complications, Matthew’s energy seemed to be almost normal by the end of July. I noticed then that there was one whole weekend that wasn’t marred by a stomach ache, a spiked temperature, or inordinate fatigue. Soon after that, he began riding his bicycle in Lincoln without training wheels. Grandpa unpacked the bicycle Uncle Steve had sent so now Matthew has "wheels" for his Stromsburg visits.

There continue to be complications, but they seem to be farther apart. During one of Matthew’s recent hospitalizations, I informed him that his second cousin was having surgery on her foot that same day.

"Will it hurt?" he asked.

"Yes. She’ll probably have to stay off of it for awhile and maybe use crutches."

"Will her hair fall out?" he asked.

I looked at Matthew. His medication caused a lot of hair growth. His beautiful brown eyes were fringed with long curly lashes that would make Liz Taylor eat her heart out. Bushy eyebrows and a thick head of hair marked him as a transplant recipient. What a change from Christmas of 1996 when chemo therapy had left him without hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes! A recent blood test and CT scan have confirmed that Matthew is cancer free.

Matthew, August 1997

On August 24, 1997, Matthew entered kindergarten at Randolph Elementary School, Lincoln, Nebraska. Like every grandma, I wanted to be a little mouse peeking out to witness that day. He didn’t know it, but he was surrounded by loving thoughts and prayers.

So what’s it all about? It’s about love and compassion, despair and hope, faith and courage. It’s about friendship and joy, disappointment and fulfillment, appreciating life and grabbing onto every day and wringing every minute out of every hour.

But mostly, it’s a tribute to family and friends for loving support, to doctors and nurses for knowledge and care, to God for strength and healing, and to Matthew for being brave, and sometimes "mean."

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