Penndale seventh-grader Matthew Knoebel is surrounded by love and generosity.
The leukemia patient, 12, has spent a month on a hospital bed at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, but you can tell his mother, Christina Simpson, has made him feel at home.
The hearts of the West Point-rooted Simpson family — sisters Christina and fiance Tom Coughlin, Kellie Roggio, of Upper Gwynedd, and Mary Aderman of Lansdale; brother Michael; and parents Mike and Sue — are much like their homelife (and Matthew's hospital room door): open.
On Halloween, Knoebel and his mom spent the afternoon watching Jim Gaffigan’s “Beyond the Pale.” Later that night, Christina took a Halloween bag of candy to her son, which was donated through Altoona’s “Make a Difference Day,” from the Ronald McDonald House Room at CHOP.
When she came back, Matthew had a sad look on his face: he didn’t want the candy because there were youths who needed in more than him.
“I just love him so much, it hurts,” said Christina.
On Friday, Knoebel was readmitted to the hospital; his leukemia is now high risk.
Doctors need Matthew’s cell count to be one leukemia per 10,000. Matthew’s is 400 to 10,000.
Chemotherapy, most likely, will not cure him. Relapse chance is high.
A bone marrow transplant must happen soon, his mother said.
Matthew's doctors are, at present, in the process of determining his human leukocyte antigen tissue type. HLAs are proteins on cells in the body, and the immune system uses the proteins to recognize the right cells for the body and the wrong cells for the body. The closer a match to Matthew's HLA proteins, the better.
Matthew was in the hospital for 37 days, and discharged on Wednesday. Remission was a possibility, as he was responding well to that chemotherapy. In the meantime, he was receiving home medical attention.
Matthew was diagnosed on Oct. 28 with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, or Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia.
Last weekend, Matthew’s neighbors held a hot chocolate fundraiser for him near Pine and Poplar streets. They are planning another one for next weekend.
Matthew's Hot Chocolate Sale is Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. rain or shine on Pine Street, between Squirrel Lane and Edgemont Avenue.
Baked goods will also be sold. If you wish to donate baked goods, contact Rochelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-574-7823. Baked goods can be dropped off day of or ahead of time, or picked up.
Friends and family of Matthew have organized a public "Matthew's Fight Against Leukemia" pancake fundraiser breakfast at Applebee's at Ralph's Corner from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. December 16.
It's all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage, as well as coffee and juice, at $8 an adult and $5 a child 12 and under.
All proceeds will go to fund Matthew's medical expenses.
There will be a 50/50 drawing at the breakfast.
It will also have a special guest: Santa Claus.
To purchase tickets, contact Shannon McNally at Shannon.McNally14@yahoo.com.
Can't attend? Donate online at "Let's Help Keep Matt Healthy" on Indiegogo at this link:http://igg.me/p/273535.
To read Matthew’s full story, check out his CaringBrige blog at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/matthewknoebel.
Stay on top of public fundraising events for Matthew at this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/130623243758909/.
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