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It's the kind of help no parent wants to ask for.

Posted on 25/03/2010 12:00am

Williams brothers Christopher, 9, and Matt, 11, spent a rare three days together at home in February. Matthew has been battling cancer at BC Children's Hospital since June 2009.

Amy Dove/News staff
By Amy Dove - Goldstream News Gazette
Published: March 25, 2010

It's the kind of help no parent wants to ask for.

Since their son Matt, 11, was diagnosed with leukemia last June, parents Angie and Graham Williams have watched a bank account grow. It's not always clear where the money is coming from, as everyone from family and friends to complete strangers have donated to the family's expenses.

"You can't describe it. You never want to go through this, but some of the things that have happened are truly amazing," Graham says.

"It's sad to think people come out to help because your kid is sick, but you appreciate it," Angie says.

Matt is undergoing treatment at BC Children's Hospital. It hasn't been easy as every time they start a round of chemo, he develops complications. What was supposed to be a six to eight month stay has been pushed to a year.

"I've had problems with every organ except my kidneys," Matt says.

The family had a rare weekend at home in February - the third time Matt has slept in his own bed since he was diagnosed. It's a break from needles and hospital beds, and a welcome chance to play with younger brother Christopher.

Treatment started up again Feb. 18 for a 64-day cycle. That means chemo every day but if it all goes smoothly Matt will be able to come home this summer. His overall treatment is three years, but the bulk of that can be done on the Island, Angie says.

"That's his goal. Coming home," says Angie during an interview in February. "When your kid is feeling good, you feel good. He's been the best he has been these last three weeks. Every day is a blessing."

With Matt focused on treatment and what classes he wants to take at Spencer middle school next year, his parents reflect on what the community support has done for them.

They declined to share the total amount donated, but it's enough to cover travel, accommodation, food and some medical costs. That money means they can focus on their children instead of worrying about bills.

"I don't know what we would have done," Angie says. "Maybe go into RRSP."

It's not just the money that helps. Through Ronald MacDonald House and BC Children's Hospital, Matt has gotten to meet a handful of his sports heroes - from hockey players Trevor Linden, Alex Burrows and Josh Georges to Victoria-born basketball star Steve Nash. Tickets to Olympic events and other sporting events have helped keep his spirits up, Matt says.

Behind the scenes people have offered to babysit Christopher and keep an eye on their house. From handmade decorations for the Christmas tree from classmates at Happy Valley elementary to a slew of cards and notes on a Facebook fan page with more than 900 members, it's clear the community supports them.

"There are angels out there," Graham says. "We thank them for doing this."

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

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