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Local families and businesses hold fundraisers for young cancer patient

Matthew Wood, and his sisters: Hailee Wood, 7, Chloe Buskey, 13, and Leah Girouard 7, walked to raise awareness and support for Matthew’s medical treatment as he fights leukemia.

Matthew Wood, and his sisters: Hailee Wood, 7, Chloe Buskey, 13, and Leah Girouard 7, walked to raise awareness and support for Matthew’s medical treatment as he fights leukemia. Photo by Katherine Clark.

— On a mild Labor Day morning, 5-year-old leukemia patient Matthew Wood of Plattsburgh courageously walked Main Street in Au Sable Forks wearing his Team Matthew orange tie-dyed T-shirt.

Four weeks prior to the walk, Wood was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Since his diagnosis, his life and his family’s life have changed dramatically.

His mother, Kasi Rockwell, said her son went from being an active young boy and playing with his sisters to losing energy quickly and being unable to play like he’s always done.

“Just the other day he had trouble getting the strength to walk a few steps, and it was unbelievable how he walked through the whole parade,” Wood’s aunt, Danyle Rockwell, said.

Kasi said the news of her son’s cancer was both shocking and devastating for their whole family.

“His sisters have been there 100 percent for him, going to doctors appointments and making things more comfortable for him,” Kasi said. “It’s just hard for everyone. This has completely shifted all of our lives.”

Kasi said she first noticed her son was sick when he started bruising in unusual places. The bruises were not the normal little boy bruises she expected to see on her active child. He was bruised in his arm pits and stomach and when the nose bleeds began, she knew something was wrong.

“We took him to the doctors, and that night we were bringing him to Burlington and he started treatment, having chemotherapy injected into his spine,” Kasi said.

Family fight

Wood’s family, facing many unexpected expenses due to his illness, is still facing a long road to Matthew’s recovery. Kasi, who worked at the Homestead Restaurant, had to take a leave of absence from work to be there for her son full time.

“His treatment has been ongoing with two trips a week to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington,” Danyle said. “He’s looking at a three-year treatment. There is still a long road ahead.”

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