OKLAHOMA CITY – It doesn’t take long to get sucked into the energy of 4-year-old Matthew Leming from Sulphur.
Matthew has four brothers and sisters that love to play with him when he’s not on his own adventure.
He sports a small scar from a garden snake he grabbed before his mother, Lisa Leming, could stop him.
If he isn’t digging up bugs or catching snakes, you may see Matthew at the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer.
Matthew has a condition called neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that affects one in every 3,000 people.
The hallmark of the disease are skin spots and benign tumors.
For Matthew, the tumors showed up when he was just 2 years old in his brain.
“I just cried for days” Lisa said. “I didn’t know what to do with myself, and I didn’t hold myself together until I gave it to God.”
Pediatric oncologist Dr. Rene Mcnall-Knapp said the tumors threatened Matthew’s vision and pressured his pituitary gland. That launched precocious puberty in Matthew at the young age of 3 years old. He now takes hormones to hold puberty at bay.
Now, the tumors are smaller and no longer squeezing his optic nerve.
“The optic nerve looks much better. It looks normal here,” McNall-Knapp said.
Chemotherapy is putting the brakes on Matthew’s tumors, and the low-dose of the drug is no match for Matthew’s energy.
“He has more energy than any three adults I know,” McNall-Knapp said. “This doesn’t seem to phase him much as far as energy level.”
“Chemo doesn’t keep him down at all. From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, he is like this,” Lisa says, as Matthew crashes toys on a train table behind her.
Matthew considers Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer his second home, and he will visit this place for years to come.
Doctors will need to keep stalling the tumors, which will hopefully stop growing when he does.
“From the receptionist to the nursing aides to doctors to psychologists, they’ve all been wonderful,” Lisa said.
By now, Matthew has everyone well-trained. After his weekly treatment is done, it’s time for a special tradition at the nurse’s station.
“Dance party!” Matthew exclaims, as everyone breaks out in their own signature moves, laughing along with him.
Every day is a celebration when the ball of energy is around.
If you’d like to help kids like Matthew fight cancer, consider supporting the Jimmy Everest Cancer Center.
‘Kids With Courage’ is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.