By DAVID GREEN
Mattie Powell’s fourth birthday last April was a happy affair. It was about that time that she was declared cancer-free after a long battle with a brain tumor. The clinical trial she was involved with so far was successful.
Half a year later, gloom settled back into Duane and Sara Powell’s household following a visit to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Duane took Mattie to St. Jude for a routine checkup in November and received the bad news. It wasn’t that the brain tumor had returned. There was a cancerous mass above one knee and another in her right femur. Cancer cells were also found around her ribs.
“They had absolutely zero hope to give me,” Duane said. “There was nothing more they could do.”
A few days later he and Sara were called to St. Jude because a new clinical trial was ready to get underway. Mattie was chosen as one of five children who would be the first to give it a try.
“At least with this we have something to hope for,” Duane said.
Mattie has had the first of four oral chemotherapy rounds. After the second one, she’ll return to St. Jude for a checkup.
Life goes on at the Powell house. Mattie performed in her tap dance recital earlier this month, although at first she had some doubts.
“‘I don’t think I can tap,’ she told me,” Duane said. “But she got up there and did it. She had a really nice time with the other girls and they had a lot of fun.”
Mattie was fitted for a walker a few weeks ago and she’s using it more now due to the pain of walking. She’s also taking a slow-release morphine around the clock, along with a barrage of other medications to counteract effects of the pain-killer.
Mattie was on the minds of people around the globe after someone started a call for Christmas cards via Facebook. Their mail carrier has been busy.
“We just broke the 1,900 mark today,” Duane said Monday, after another 57 cards arrived.
Several have arrived from Australia and two new countries—Singapore and Malaysia—were added top the tally this week.
A church in Wauseon is paying for the family to spend two nights at the Great Wolf Lodge resort in Sandusky. A limo ride was arranged to view Christmas lights in Archbold. Another fund raiser is scheduled Jan. 16 in Ridgeville Corners.
“People have been just wonderful again,” Duane said. “It’s hard to express how much we’ve appreciated everything they do.”
The Powells will continue to cling to that thread of hope from the new treatment and try to make another challenging day a good one for their four and a half-year-old daughter.
“We’re trying to let her be a kid for as long as possible,” Duane said.