(slow contemporary music) I had just finished my junior year of college I was active. I played on the lacrosse team, division three as well as the captain of our ultimate frisbee team at school. So very active. I felt what felt like a knot in the back, near my shoulder. I started getting tingling down my spine into my feet. And then eventually one day I woke up and I was numb from my chest down. I went through some scans and they discovered that it was a tumor pushing against my spinal chord. Two or three days later we had a spinal surgery done. The surgery was very successful. I could feel my legs again and I could see on everyone’s faces that there’s something just not right. And that’s when they told me it was cancerous. My diagnosis was Ewing sarcoma. A friend of ours actually told us you have to go see Dr. Pearce. She’s the only person who has dealt with Ewing sarcoma in the area and that’s really who you need to get in to see. Dr. Pearce personally called us and said I want to see Matt. I’m gonna take care of you. And I just have to say honestly I burst into tears. The treatment process was aggressive. We opted for hitting it hard and there was week after week of going in. And it takes a toll on you. It just became kind of the slug fest. You could see the power of those medicines affecting a very athletic young man. It was just tough to see, you know, the physical things change. And that’s hard for him but then also to see, it just take a toll on his spirit some days. It kind of strips you of some of the things you think you are. But it really in Matt’s case allowed him to become an incredible young man who had to battle something really challenging. But he just rose to that in an amazing way. And the nurses and doctors at the Melodies Center are amazing. They’re just incredible people. They love what they do and you just feel welcome. It’s one big family there. We really are so grateful that you saved our son’s life. And we’re thankful we could stay in our own community and have the services that we need. We are forever grateful for that. Life is great today. We’ve been married two years in January. We hold really closely memories of the treatment and the cancer but it also feels like really far away and that we’re in this different part of life. And we’re just really grateful to be here. Today I’m doing great. It’s been almost two and a half years since I finished my last treatment. I just appreciate life and the opportunities I do have. And I don’t take for granted what I’ve been given. (contemporary music) We had a beautiful baby girl. Our first born. We had scheduled our first pediatrician visit. The doctor proceded to check her out and this little bulge in the belly. And she thought we would burp her and it would go away. But it didn’t and she sent us for a scan. And we could just tell by the look on the face of the x-ray technician that things were not good. We were then sent down the following day to Albany Med. Dr. Porter confirmed that she had neuroblastoma. At 17 days old she had her first chemo treatment. For the next year, she went through chemotherapy. It felt like we were on an island. Although we had the family support and friend support nobody really got it. She was born in August and it came time around January where the tumor wasn’t responding to the chemotherapy. So the treatment that they were giving wasn’t strong enough so they had to make it stronger. That’s when she lost all of her little baby hair and her eyebrows and everything and got very very very sick. But Dr. Porter assured us that we were on the right track. In Lauren’s chest cavity, it was a hot dog sized tumor that was essentially wrapped around her spine. They shrunk the tumor down to a point where they could surgically remove the rest of the tumor. Then she started responding and it was very good news. And again the whole entire way, Dr. Porter and Dr. Pearce were amazing. They were cheerleaders. Couldn’t have done it without them. You go back for checkups and every time she’d walk in. And obviously she’d get older and older and she’s a toddler and we’re going in. And we went up to five years old. Your five year mark is a big deal. She just lit up that place. They would light up. The whole staff in that clinic knew Lauren and it was the best day ever. That look that they gave you. That they see you for who you are and they remember all of the stuff you had to go through during your treatment. We can’t say enough for the Melodies Center. They essentially saved our daughter, Lauren’s life. They’re the reason I’m here today. And really without them I would not be who I am. They had become a part of me. I am a freshman at Russell Sage College and I want to become a pediatric oncology nurse in the future with them at the Melodies Center. Giving back to all the children there. To have that opportunity would be the greatest gift in the world to me. To be able to give back to those kids who went through the same thing as I did. (contemporary music) Tori’s the youngest of five children. She played soccer, she was into basketball. Very happy go lucky. I was about eight and I started telling my Mom that I had pain in my leg. They didn’t think anything of it. She just thought it was growing pains. So I called the pediatrician back up and I said can I just take her to see an orthopedic doctor. He did an x-ray and he found a tumor. That’s when he sent us to see Dr. DiCaprio. Everything happened really fast. So test started on a Friday and then that Tuesday was her biopsy. We found out for sure that it was cancer. Her official diagnosis was osteosarcoma. And it was in her left tibia. Osteosarcoma doesn’t really have a stage but it is very aggressive. They removed the part of her leg, her tibia, where the tumor was and replaced it with a cadaver bone. She started chemo the day after Thanksgiving. And she was always very positive about it, always just kind of one day at a time. There couldn’t have been a better match than Dr. Pearce and Tori. She sees the kind of outlook and positivity that Tori has and she’s had Tori talk to other patients. Tori can ignite other people and be a role model for people. At the hospital it was really fun most of the time. It’s really not a bad place. Most people think it’s like bad doctors. Like it’s not. It’s very fun actually. The Melodies Center is amazing. It’s a caring place, it’s a comforting place. They’re just an awesome group of people. Tori is healthy. She’s you know, every milestone is a milestone. She’s happy, she’s healthy, she’s doing well in school. I would like to say thank you to the people who helped me through this fight. They just really brought a smile to my face. She’s a trooper. (guitar music) Gavin was three years old and we noticed a protrusion on his stomach. We took him to the pediatrician. He did a physical exam of his abdomen and immediately said you need to take him to the ER right now. They ran a bunch of tests and they delivered the news that no parent wants to hear. Ever. That your son has a tumor in his kidney. It’s Wilms tumor. You know, if your kid is going to have cancer, this is the cancer you want your kid to have because it’s an 85, 90% cure rate. They saw how large the tumor was so they did a nephrectomy, removal of the kidney with the tumor. They kept reassuring us that 90% falls in the favorable, what they call the favorable histology. We get the results back of the biopsy. And we get kicked down again. We fall in the 10% of the unfavorable. The cancer cells were spread throughout the tumor. They weren’t focalized in one location, which is just another bad sign. But he bounced back incredibly quickly. Which allowed him to start chemo the seventh day after the surgery. He didn’t understand what was going on and he was sick at times and didn’t want to do anything. But there is still always that piece of Gavin that was always there, that silly little boy. You know he’s a three year old boy. How much can a three year old boys body handle. But the doctors kept reassuring us, children are fighters and they’re a lot more resilient than we give them credit for. Heeya!
Ouch! Heeya!
Oooo! Heeya!
Oooo! Heeya!
Beautiful man. He had four nodules in his lungs. Yeah. And three of them were no longer visible with the scan. There was one remaining, but it was significantly smaller. So it was good news that his treatment is working. There’s hope and at that moment I’m like you know what, he is our fighter and we’ve got this. It never leaves you, you know. Things do get better but you think about it every single day. It never leaves you. The Melodies Center. I can not say enough amazing things about them. They became our second home. (gong) (group cheers) I say this everytime to them and I can’t say it without getting emotional. Because… Because they saved him. And what they did for us and what they did for our son was amazing. I can’t imagine a better staff and it’s a family. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. You guys are my inspiration and I want to be you. I can’t thank them enough. They’re amazing people. You’ve made us a whole family again.

Dancing in the Woods 2017
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