Bowling, the best medicine'
Matthew Williams and his family bowl at the Twin Oaks Bowling Center at Fort Sill, Okla. Matthew has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells, but his family finds a great deal of support in their civilian community.

FORT SILL, Okla.--"How do I say thank you'" asks Chief Warrant Officer David Williams as he sits in awe of the compassion his family has received during a time of need. His son, Matthew, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 6.

Matthew is now 7 and has been receiving treatment at the Jimmy Everest Center in Oklahoma City since May.

Specifically, Matthew has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells.

Similar to when a tornado rips through town, this news was devastating to the Williams family. David and
his wife Michele have two other children. Their time is strained on a regular basis as they raise children while getting their son treatments up to five times a week. But David doesn't talk much about the difficulties of this for his son and his family. Instead he focuses on the kindness of others.

A week had barely gone by before the people in Elgin offered another shock to the Williams family, except this one was welcomed.

Matthew's kindergarten teacher, Debbie Meraz, showed up at the hospital with gifts from people at school
and in the town that heard what happened and wanted to help in the only way they knew how. This was the first of many unexpected acts of compassion the family has received.

Another came from the people at the Goodyear tire plant who helped make the family's Thanksgiving special.

"We were expecting a little bag of canned goods, and we would've most certainly taken it but they started
handing us a 14-pound turkey, a box of canned goods, a big bag of different kinds of fruit. We had to give
some of the fruit away, because we didn't want it to go to waste. All my wife and I could do was just hug each other."

The Williams are originally from the Northeast but after the display of kindness they've seen, they may permanently live in Southwest Oklahoma.

"Everyone let me tell you something. You don't know what you are missing - the people of Oklahoma have a heart as big as the Wichita Mountains," David posted on the Caring Bridge site. The Web site connects friends and family during a serious health event. David said it's also a way to relieve stress by typing out what's going on.

David gives a thoughtful explanation of why the treatment takes so long, "If you have a glass of water but it's muddy, and I tell you to make it clean, but the rule is you can't get rid of all your water. So you take your glass of water you pour three quarters of it out and you pour clean water in. You keep pouring three quarters of it out and replacing it with clean water. Eventually by doing this your water becomes cleaner and hopefully to the point where you don't have any dirty water - well, basically, that's what they're doing to his body."

On top of the chemotherapy, Matthew gets copious shots that starve all of his cells-including the
leukemia cells. "So the child just gets hammered every time he goes up there. And now he's like, 'bring it on'," said David.

Matthew has more than two years of chemotherapy and treatment but doctors said his chances of recovery are favorable.

"I like to think in my mind, because I like to be optimistic, that he's already cured but they have to go through the pouring the water out getting it cleaner and making darn well sure that he's taken care of. So we'll go through all the treatment."

With all the positive energy the family displays, they still find one thing hard -- finding the right words to thank everyone who has helped.

"Iit's like no matter how you say thank you, I don't care what kind of verbiage you put on it, no matter what kind of emotion you put on it, it just seems trivial," Davis said.

In his posts on the Caring Bridge Web site, David wrote, "The saying is so true, 'One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.' Thank you all, we are blessed - pressed down, shaken together and running over."

Page last updated Thu January 21st, 2010 at 14:49