A Hawaii-loving DuBois Area Middle School student would love for you to stuff his mail carrier’s bag full of Christmas cards.
Maddox Hyde — a 14-year-old, 8th grade student terminally ill with neuroblastoma — has only weeks or months to live. His school has supported him with fundraisers, a Pennsylvania nonprofit fulfilled his dream of traveling to Hawaii, and now Maddox is asking to receive Christmas cards from near and far.
“The teachers, students and staff have been pulling for Maddox and doing what we can to help him and his family out,” DuBois Area Middle School principal Darren Hack said. “This is just sad for a wonderful young man like him for this to happen to. He’s just really a great kid.”
Longtime cancer journey
His “cancer journey” started about eight years ago.
Kristi Potter, Hyde’s mom, said it started with a bloody nose that turned out to be a tumor the size of a grapefruit on his right adrenal gland.
He returned to the hospital for a scan after he was in remission for 18 months, but that is when doctors discovered an inoperable tumor on his right hip.
Potter said her son went into remission again on March 29, 2016, but that good news only lasted three days. He was paralyzed and diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome and was in a pediatric intensive care unit on a ventilator for two weeks.
He spent two months in the hospital’s rehab center, where he re-learned to walk, eat and write. With the exception of lingering weakness in his left foot, all of his abilities and feeling returned.
That milieu lasted for 10 months before doctors found a small tumor on his spine. His treatments were working and the tumor was shrinking, but then it “exploded” after six weeks and grew drastically.
Potter said Hyde’s mouth became numb and weak and an MRI showed a tumor on the back base of his head.
Rather than subject him to additional treatments, his family is heading home with him to keep his pain controlled as he “lives his final weeks.”
Learning, teaching and fighting
Despite his prognosis, frequent travel to Pittsburgh for treatment and hospice care, Hack said Hyde is still enrolled in regular the school’s regular education program.
“Since he’s been here, he’s a kid that wants to come to school to be with his friends and be part of what we do here,” Hack said. “He’s taught our kids a lot. The kids that he hangs around, you know, he’s gotta fight. He’s a kid that wants to come to school and fights to get here and that’s something we don’t see a lot of.”
Hack said the school hosted an assembly for him last year alongside Jamie’s Dream Team — an organization that aims to “lift the spirits of those suffering from, and ease the burden caused by, serious illness.”
The organization fulfilled his dream by sending him to Hawaii — his birthplace. Hack said Hyde’s birth father was stationed in Hawaii with the military during that time and Hyde wanted to see where he was born and spend time with his family.
“Obviously, very tragic what he has been dealing with, but really (he’s) just always been so positive and, you know, never seems to be in a bad mood,” Hack said. “You can tell that sometimes he’s tired from his treatments and things like that, but never been in a bad mood.”
Cards can be sent to 333 Ohio St., Reynoldsville, PA, 15851.