4 year old battles cancer, inspires thousands

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Vinton native Matthew Lucas, 4, is battling cancer and inspiring thousands all over the world chronicling his struggle through social networking. Matthew now has over 6,000 fans for his Facebook page, Team Matthew. He was diagnosed eight months ago with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a fast-growing cancer that led to tumors from his spine to his stomach. Doctors first diagnosed him with a virus in his knee, but after a full body MRI they discovered the tumors. One was the size of a grapefruit.

Besides his hair-loss, you would never know Matthew could not walk eight months ago because of the disease. He is now walking, though with a limp, and his energy is up. His mother, Jessie Lucas, said, "He's a normal four year old. He doesn't know he's sick."

"He doesn't talk about cancer. He doesn't understand cancer. He does understand he has a big bo-bo in his belly," explained Aleata Tharp, Matthew's grandmother.

The family traveled to Houston's Texas Children's Hospital for treatment, but support was not far. Hundreds of messages flooded Matthew's hospital room.

"One day he had them scattered all over his bed and he picked one up. He looked at us and he said, 'you can't hold an email.' That's amazing! For a four year old to say. He loves his messages," gushed Tharp.

The traveling has been constant for Matthew and his family back and forth for treatment since his diagnosis in July.

When he comes home, "you can't go anywhere in Vinton without somebody asking how is our little boy. That's what they call him: our little boy," said Tharp.

Matthew was even asked to be the Grand Marshal of a town parade.

"He'd say, 'Everybody knows me.' I'd say, 'Yeah the whole town knows you!' They just love him," said Tharp.

Matthew is 27 weeks into his chemo therapy and radiation treatment, and he is only about halfway through.

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