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Matthew’s Story

Welcome to Matty's Web Page.

It was designed to keep family and friends updated on his battle with Hepatoblastoma.


MATTY "The Bravest" DUBUC

9/24/99 - 3/25/07


Matthew was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer), Stage IV on July 6, 2004. He was just 4 years old. Hepatoblastoma is a rare form of liver cancer and affects only one in a million children a year. Stage IV of the disease means that it has spread, in Matthew's case it spread to his lungs (at initial diagnosis and 13 months later when he relapsed), brain and left wristbone. Matthew had many months of chemotherapy, a liver transplant, 3 lung surgeries, 2 brain surgeries (first tumor removed 12/18/05, second tumor removed on 7/24/06) and radiation. When his wrist tumor got aggressive with no response to chemotherapy or radiation, his left arm was amputated from the elbow down on October 13, 2006. Despite all the hardship he had, he continued to fight his battle like "The Bravest"!! We were told on November 20, 2006 that there was nothing short of a miracle that would help Matty beat his battle.

On March 25, 2007 - 2 years, 8 months and 16 days after Matty was diagnosed, he went to Heaven, peacefully in his sleep.

Matthew has a big brother, Christopher, who was just 9 years old when Matty died. Today, Chris is 17 years old. He grew up too fast, saw too much and knows way more than any child his age should know. Regardless of all he's been through, he's such a good kid, a fantastic student, he's athletic, social and helps in so many ways to 'give back'!

Matty also has a little brother, Zachary, who is now 11 years old. Zachary was just under 2 weeks old when Matty was diagnosed and was 2 1/2 years old when Matty died. Zachary has always been a very good distraction for Matty (and for all of us) because he made it too hard to focus on the frustrations of cancer when we would see his smile and hear his laugh, especially when he was visiting Matty while inpatient! Zachary has no idea he's become so social because of the many trips to the hospital. Zach has many fond memories of Matty, regardless of the short time they had together. Zach is also a terrific student, funny, social and has a big heart!

After finding out on 8/1/05 that Matthew's cancer had returned in his lungs, this web page was created.



Latest Journal Update


July 6th. A date I'll never forget. It's Matty's official diagnosis date. It came in the form of a late night phone call.
Johnny had answered the phone and was talking on the receiver, while shaking his head 'yes' to me. I remember not believing it. How could MY son have cancer. He was 4 years old. Other than the 'bump' in the road of having a (non cancerous) tumor removed from the left ventricle of his heart at 10 days old and having tubes inserted at 18 months old because of the constant ear infections, he was a very healthy child. Little did we know.
Until right before diagnosis, Matty wasn't symptomatic. Had he been, maybe we would have caught it before his liver cancer had spread to his lungs. We were told within that next two weeks, that Matty had a 5% chance of survival. I thought, "how cruel to tell a parent that". MY kid was not going to die from cancer. MY kid was going to beat the odds.
Matty was a happy 4 year old. He was breastfed. Matty loved vegetables. He was my best eater. He was active. He played soccer. Johnny and I both worked. We have a decent, loving home. We have friends. We're friendly and sociable. We love to travel and have fun. We love our boys. So WHY Matty? WHY our family?
Cancer doesn't give a crap about any of that. Cancer sucks! I hate the saying of all the things that cancer cannot do, because cancer does a hell of a lot. Cancer destroys families. Cancer changes everything. I hate that cancer exists, especially in kids. It's not fair to have to watch a child fight for their life.
I know I haven't updated in months. It's hard. I continue to miss Matty each and every day and it feels depressing to continue writing about the same heartache. Fact is, I don't ever feel that missing Matty will get easier. What has gotten easier is how I handle the heartache, how we each handle missing Matty. We continue to have good days and bad days. We also continue to feel the love and support. Thank goodness for the amazing supportive people in our lives because it truly helps the heartache.
l work hard at making sure that Matty is not forgotten. This past year has shown me, in so many different ways, that Matty's memory will live in the hearts of many, forever. For this, I am grateful. My hard work is paying off.
It doesn't mean I'll ever stop sharing Matty's story or bringing childhood cancer awareness to the surface. I feel this is my forever job.

July 6th. The date my son was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma. He was 4.
21 people hearted this



Pam Barrow
By Pam Barrow
I came to your page tonight just to let you know that I think of Matty often, - I obviously don't know you and will probably never meet you but I remember your son for his courage and energy and spunk :)
Liz Penner
By Liz Penner
I also hate children's cancers -just followed a girl who was diagnosed with leukemia at 22mos. Went through 3 years of treatment was cancer free for a short time & relapsed for another 3 years of treatment & finally beat the leukemia & was cancer free for a few years & relapsed with a brain tumor which was a secondary cancer from getting radiation for the leukemia & fought for 15 mos. & died in June:( she is almost the same age as my grandson and that sucks that she spent most of her short life battling cancers:(
Margaret Faulkner
By Margaret Faulkner
Sandy, even though I never had the pleasure of meeting your Matty he will definitely live on in my heart. Just following his CaringBridge page makes me feel like I almost personally knew him as well as your family. Thank you for giving me the privilege.
Holly Hart
By Holly Hart
Sweet Matty. I think I always believed that somehow he would beat those odds, the way he bounced back quicker than any of his doctors ever predicted! The strength in that small boy was immense! Even when that stinking cancer took his arm, there he was playing his Gameboy just taking it in stride! I'm still in awe of his strength and his composure, and just flat out grace! He showed all of us how to truly live life. Of course you and Johnny helped to make that possible. Your strength, and determination helped carry him. You worked hard everyday to help him life his very best life. He packed so much living and so many smiles into his life. I would just give anything to see where all those wonderful qualities would have taken him! I don't have any friends or family who don't know who Matty is. Zachary and Aaron still mention him and how fun your visit was. It made all of us better. You guys are always in my thoughts and prayers. No parent, no sibling, no grandparent - no one should suffer such a loss. Your life is a tribute to Matty. Every blood drive, water station, every time you share Matty's story you honor him. I know some days are almost impossible to even get out of bed, but some how you find that strength. You and Johnny amaze me as much as Matty did! It's pretty clear where he got his courage and strength. He loved his MaMa and DaDa with every part of his sweet heart and he knew that he was deeply loved beyond measure.

Sending big hugs,
Love Holly
Faith DeCesare
By Faith
I remember that day too, I will always remember him. There will never be a grin as heartwarming as his. In my heart always.
1 person hearted this
shelley fessinger
By shelley fessinger
Matty was such a special boy and obviously SO very loved! My heart aches along side of yours! Been a longtime follower and supporter. Nice to hear from you~I hope you and your family have a wonderful year ahead, with Matty never far behind!
1 person hearted this
Ann Boucher
By — last edited
Sending love and hugs to all of you.......Cancer Sucks!
1 person hearted this
Crystal Pichette
By Crystal Pichette - Albuquerque, NM — last edited
Sandra, I've been following your story for years. I had originally learned about Matty through Mia. Her family had mentioned you guys needed prayers and I clicked on Matty's page, and my life has forever changed. He was the same age as my son Anthony at the time. For some reason I just connected to your story and as a mom I could feel your heartache. Not a day went by that I didn't read your journal or pray for Matty. I shared his story to my entire family and friends at work to outreach for prayers. I was a rehab unit secretary then and I remember reading an entry about one of Matty's nurse who was selling Girl Scout cookies outside the grocery store in the winter. You sent your husband or to buy every single box because you didn't want his nurse outside in the cold. That story never left me. I thought how incredible, your son is fighting cancer, you have so much more to worry about but this nurse, who cares for your child, has impacted your life so greatly that you did that. That day changed my life. I decided I wanted to go to school and be that nurse, the nurse who loves her patients uncontrollably, who goes to work every day to make a difference and touch the lives of people and families like yours. I am now a pediatric ICU nurse. We have hemoc right on our unit and I look forward to being crossed trained soon. I floated hemoc last week. Took care of the 2 sweetest cancer kids. One little girl 7 years old, had the exact same cancer Matty did. I thought about his journey that whole night shift. When I interviewed for my job or when people ask me why I became a nurse, I share Matty's story. I will never forget your son or your beautiful family for that matter. Years ago you sent me a bracelet, I lost it in a move. Would you happen to have any extra? I think you are incredible and I love how you continue to honor your precious son. I'm always caring you guys in my heart
3 people hearted this