The Islanders received this tear-jerking story about Matthew Bove, a young boy from Huntington Station who doctors gave little chance to surviving his battle with cancer. Read below his story and how miracles really do happen.
In February 2006, our seemingly healthy 15-month-old son Matthew was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a very rare pediatric liver cancer. What started as a routine well visit to our babys pediatrician, began our worst nightmare and the fight to save our sweet boys life.
We relocated to Boston where treatment immediately began at the Childrens Hospital. Matthew underwent six very difficult and aggressive rounds of chemotherapy (one of which caused permanent hearing loss) and had 65 percent of his liver removed in order to remove his tumor. He endured many horrific side affects from the chemotherapy and complications from his surgery which resulted in additional surgeries. After a few short months of remission, his cancer returned.
We had relied on prayers to get us through his first battle with cancer and knew we now needed them more than ever. We were told by many doctors that there was little to no hope for our son, as they felt that the cancer had returned not only in his liver, but in his brain as well. We prayed for a miracle and moved back to Boston to begin treatment for relapse. After months of chemotherapy, the tumor in the liver showed very promising response to the chemo but the spot on the brain remained unchanged. Brain surgery was scheduled for June 4, 2007. We asked for prayers from everyone and tried to stay positive, believing that God would find a way to turn this seemingly hopeless situation around.
On Friday, June 1st, 2007 we took Matthew to the hospital for imaging of his brain. The neurosurgeon had ordered a brain MRI for the purpose of mapping out the impending surgery. We took Matthew home for the weekend and returned with him early Monday morning for brain surgery. With fear of the unknown, we kissed our baby goodbye and headed to the waiting room with our many family members who drove up from Long Island to be there for this major surgery. After forty-five minutes, a nurse from the operating room came out to find us. She apologetically explained that one of the necessary images of the brain had inexplicably gotten deleted from their computer system over the weekend. Although Matthew was already on the operating table and fully prepped for surgery, he would need to be taken off of the table to be brought to the radiology department so that this essential image of his brain could be taken once again. We were told to expect to see Matthews neurosurgeon in about seven hours, after the surgery was completed.
Only one and a half hours later, Matthew's neurosurgeon approached the family waiting area. We were puzzled by the bewildered expression on her face. Our first thought was that there was yet another problem further delaying Matthews surgery. She called us into a consult room and shaking her head said, "I've been doing this for twenty-five years and I've never seen anything like this. She went on to explain that the missing image that needed to be repeated showed a pristine brain. The tumor that had been remained unchanged for months had miraculously vanished in the span of one weekend. The surgery was called off.
Many doctors from the hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as well as faculty from Harvard Medical School (both institutions are affiliated with Childrens Hospital Boston) came to see the mystifying series of images. Not one could give any scientific basis for the perfect brain image before them. It was truly a miracle. Instead of the long ICU stay that had been anticipated, we were overjoyed to be able to take our son home that very same day.
Matthew had another liver surgery and finished the five rounds of chemo that were planned for the treatment of the relapse. He celebrated his total remission in July 2007 and he received his last dose of chemo the following month. By the end of his journey, hed had twelve surgeries and eleven rounds of chemo in total.
We are so overwhelmingly grateful and blessed to be able to say that we are celebrating and thanking God for two years (and counting!) of remission. Matthew will celebrate his fifth birthday in November and if you didn't know his history, you'd never guess he's been through all that he has. He loves school and playing on his soccer team. He is a huge sports fan. He loves the Islanders and enjoys nothing more than going to the games or watching them on television. He recently became a big brother for the first time and is already grooming his baby brother to be as a big of an Islander fan as he is.
Matthew is living proof that hope is never lost and miracles really do happen. Story submitted by Matthew's loving father Ralph Bove from Huntington Station