News

Community supports Matthew's fight

ALLISON SMITH

Beyond all odds, Matthew Gadal is here.

His mother Lynn hopes to keep it that way - it is only through much tragedy she has gained the knowledge needed to help her 12-year-old son fight the battle of his life as he continues to suffer from a rare, undiagnosed brain disorder that has left him confined to a wheelchair, unresponsive and reliant on feeding tubes.

After reading about the Gadal's plight in a local newspaper, Jodee Fine of Jodee's Fine Hair decided to organize a benefit in Matthew's name. And so, members and friends of the Gadal family, along with the many nurses and people who have worked with Matthew over the years, were there to support mother, son and husband Wayne Hill Saturday night at the Moose and Goose. To date, $6,000 has been raised, including $5,000 Saturday night. An anonymous donor has committed to giving $100 a month for the next year.

Lynn said she was overwhelmed at the community's support and wants everyone, especially organizer Jodee Fine, their donations and words are greatly appreciated.

"I'm holding my tears," she said as people filed through the door and numerous hugs and handshakes were exchanged. "There's a lot of people here. I wish I had the chance to thank everyone individually. It's very heartwarming for me."

Saturday's fundraiser will hopefully launch a more positive chapter in Matthew Gadal's life. The young teen has been through many hospital visits and much pain already.

The problem is that Matthew's brain "is not growing or is growing very slow," she said. Pieces of his brain are dying all the time, and doctors can't find out why. There are also pieces missing from the inside of his brain. But some of Matthew's brain cells are regenerating as others die.

'That may be why Matthew is different from my other children," said Lynn. It's taken this long, and the deaths of her two other sons from brain disorders in the early 1990s, to start making breakthroughs.

If that wasn't enough, her first husband passed away in 1993.

She has spent many years doing research to help her son and becoming "a doctor in medical terms," she said, adding she knows exactly what medications he's given and why.

After the deaths of her first two sons from a previous marriage, and a close call with Matthew, her main priority is to "keep him healthy and stay on top" of the disorder and his treatment.

"If people can go through what I've been through since 1986 and '87, they wouldn't choose to go through it, no ifs, ands or buts," said Lynn, who works full time to help pay for the things Matthew needs - they recently renovated their house to make it more accessible but have received news from the provincial government that Matthew's monthly disability payments will decrease.

The government "needs to open their eyes and re-evaluate," she said.

"If that child needs something, that child should get it. And if that child dies, I guess it's, 'we were wrong.' No. No child should have to suffer and wait."

As for Matthew, "as long as the Lord lets me have him, I'm happy," she said, adding she credits her family, friends, God and the great support she gets from Matthew's doctors and nurses. The memory of her two sons, and her grief, also spurs her to keep going.

After losing a family, "you have nothing," she said, adding Matthew is another inspiration. She described him as "affectionate, loveable, content. He goes through a lot of pain (because of injections by needle)."

He still has a lot of fight left in him, she said. "He's not ended yet. I'm shocked that he's 12. I remember praying (for him) to please pass five (years old). He's got power."

Proceeds from Saturday's benefit will go to fix the family's handicapped accessible van. Anything left over will go to purchase tires for the van and equipment for the house.