Jeremy’s Journey: A little boy’s battle against pediatric cancer

WSVN — A little boy’s battle against a pediatric cancer is helping other families facing the same disease. 7’s Diana Diaz has a special assignment report, "Jeremy’s Journey."

Jeremy Matthews loves to sing, play with his cars and chase after his little brother. But unlike most 4-year-olds, Jeremy is fighting a deadly disease that’s left him almost blind.

Jackie Matthews: "I had a beautiful eight-pound boy."

Jackie and Brad couldn’t have been happier when their first son was born.

Brad Matthews: "I’ve always wanted to be a dad."

But when Jeremy was a year and a half, a routine visit to the eye doctor ended in panic.

Jackie Matthews: "He asked us how quickly we could get to Bascom Palmer."

Doctors told them Jeremy had retinoblastoma, cancerous tumors in both eyes.

Brad Matthews: "Trying to wrap your head around, ‘What, what did you say?’"

Jeremy’s vision had seemed fine.

Jackie Matthews: "He was crawling, he walked, he never bumped into anything."

But they didn’t know the mysterious glow in Jeremy’s eyes that always seemed to show up in pictures was actually a sign something was seriously wrong.

Jackie Matthews: "I just attributed it to poor lighting or just the camera flash."

Jeremy became the first local patient to receive chemotherapy injections directly into his eye. His parents say most adults couldn’t handle what their little boy has been through.

Brad Matthews: "He’s been under anesthesia over 100 times. I mean, he’s had over 20-plus rounds of chemo."

His left eye couldn’t be saved. Doctors had to surgically remove it. His mom worried he would feel different.

Jackie Matthews: "Because if I let him know anything is wrong, you know, that will really affect his self-esteem."
    
With only partial sight in the eye he has left, playing sports would be too dangerous, so she enrolled him in piano lessons.

Turns out he has a talent for music, and has played in two recitals.
    
Brad Matthews: "I said, ‘He’s a fighter.’"

They hope Jeremy’s journey will not only help other parents spot the signs of disease early, but also be an inspiration. A little boy who can barely see helping others clearly see what’s really important.

Jackie Matthews: "Just to see him running around just makes me so happy, you know?"

Doctors at Bascom Palmer say Jeremy has paved the way for new treatments for other children battling this type of cancer. He received an experimental radiation treatment back in June, and so far is doing well.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
www.bascompalmer.org

Help for Families Dealing with Pediatric Illness or Loss
www.chailifeline.org