Community, teammates support cancer patient

April 13, 2008 11:00 pm

"In these moments we understand community — helping one another. In baseball, you do that all the time. You can't win it alone. You can be the best pitcher in baseball, but somebody has to get you a run to win the game. It is a community activity. You need all nine people helping one another."

— Mario Cuomo, former

New York governor, center fielder

By now, many of you have read about 11-year-old Matt McCullough of Arnold. Just six weeks ago, Matt, an aspiring baseball pitcher on his Little League team, received a devastating diagnosis. He had a brain tumor.

Soon afterwards, Matt's parents, Greg and Irene McCullough, accompanied him to the Stanford University Medical Center. The tumor was removed. The operation was a success.

Matt still has a challenging road ahead of him. He is now receiving radiation treatment at Stanford, five days a week for six weeks. Following radiation, he will undertake 10 months of chemotherapy.

To honor Matt's courage and determination in fighting his cancer, 17 of his Little League teammates and other friends shaved their heads. This was a great show of support by those youngsters and a definite morale booster for their good friend.

Matt was all smiles watching his friends play baseball recently at Ebbetts Pass Little League baseball at Murphys Feeney Park. Irene McCullough said: "When he's around his friends his spirits are up. I think it allows him to get his mind off of everything."

Another item that may help to keep Matt's spirits up is the story of major league pitcher Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox. Lester, now 24, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. Like Matt, he also underwent treatment- including chemotherapy. He was declared cancer-free and worked hard to rebuild his strength and return to his baseball career.

He re-joined the club in July 2007. And then he closed out the season winning Game Four of the World Series for the Red Sox.

Even though Matt is a huge Oakland A's fan, we know he can find encouragement from this particular American League pitcher.

The McCullough family has medical insurance, but there are so many expenses for Matt that won't be covered by insurance.

A Web site has been established for Matt and donations are appreciated. The site is http://www.helpmatthew. com

A fundraising event is being planned in June. We have a sense that the community will continue to rally around Matt and his family — just like his Little League teammates.