From spotting a lump on his son’s neck to cancer care
Father shares how his family found courage to fight cancer
Thirty months ago, our family woke up one Sunday morning and went swimming with our seemingly healthy 12-year-old son. Little did we know when we left our house that morning, Matthew wouldn’t return home for two weeks.
From the pool he went straight to the emergency room at Fort Knox after a baseball-size lump appeared out of nowhere on his neck while he was swimming.
We were transferred by ambulance to Norton Children’s Hospital and admitted to 7 West, the cancer unit, for a possible cancer diagnosis.
Seeing the words “Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center” for the first time as you step off the elevator on the seventh floor is a gut punch. In that moment it just became real. You can’t think clearly. You can’t breathe.
The following morning, Matthew was officially diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
‘You’re in remission’
The journey has been an incredible roller coaster of highs and lows, happiness and sadness.
Matthew has experienced the highs of having great blood counts and the happiness of making incredible friends with nurses, doctors, fellow warriors and their families — whom we now call family. He also felt the incredible joy of hearing the words, “You’re in remission.”
On the other hand, Matthew experienced the lows of the physical effects of chemotherapy, the heartbreaking pain of losing fellow warriors to this fight and of being told the news exactly one year later that he had relapsed.
Then once more, we experienced the absolute high of finding an anonymous donor match for a bone marrow transplant and hearing the words again, “Matthew, you’re in remission.”
We never fight alone
The fight against pediatric cancer is all about numbers for us. Daily numbers for his complete blood count, white blood cell count, absolute neutrophil count, medication dosages, dates and times for appointments — the list goes on. Matthew’s numbers concerning his fight are astounding.
This journey has been hard, but the amazing outpouring of support, love and compassion from family, friends, charitable organizations and Norton Children’s Hospital has uplifted our family through it all. They are the core of “TeamMatthew.”
Chili’s Clip for Kids
Sunday, May 20 • 2 p.m.
Fourth Street Live!
Today we are celebrating 12 months of remission after a successful bone marrow transplant. Our journey — with its progress, setbacks and ultimate victory — also is theirs: “TeamMatthew.” We never fight alone.
Join TeamMatthew and other courageous kids to put an end to childhood cancer
Matthew Walker is the 2018 Chili’s® Clip for Kids honoree. Chili’s Clip for Kids is an annual family event that raises funds for children receiving care for childhood cancer or blood disorders at Norton Children’s Hospital.
Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, combines the resources of University of Louisville Physicians and the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center at Norton Children’s Hospital. As a Children’s Oncology Group partner, Norton Children’s Cancer Institute is able to provide the latest in clinical trials and offer advanced cancer care.
Dollars raised from Chili’s Clip for Kids through the Children’s Hospital Foundation will help fund facilities, equipment, staff, patient and family financial assistance, research and support programming.
For kids fighting cancer, losing their hair is just one part of their journey. Now’s your chance to clip, trim or shave your hair in solidarity and raise funds that stay right here in our own community.