The Tiny Fighter
Made in North Carolina, The Tiny Fighter socks were designed a bit more athletic than the average dress sock to withstand the wear and tear of Matthew’s leg braces.
Two weeks before Matthew Erickson of Huntley, IL was born, a routine ultrasound revealed that he had fluid on his brain. He went in for his first brain surgery at four days old, and the resulting diagnosis was a nightmare for any new parent: a high-grade brain tumor was engulfing more than 40% of Matthew’s brain.
“Our options were hospice care or we could do what no other family with a baby born with his type of cancer had done, and that was to fight,” his mother Sue Erickson says. The odds of Matthew surviving were slim to none, and the even the most optimistic prognosis was only a few months of life. But the Ericksons had decided they were going to fight, and they did. Matthew started chemotherapy when he was just under four months old. To date, he has had eleven brain surgeries. He is also five years old, five years off treatment as of August 2017, and has surpassed every expectation placed on him.
“They didn’t think he would ever walk or possibly ever talk… he started walking independently last year. He is nonverbal for the most part, but he is trying to talk. He just started kindergarten. I say every day we just see a miracle,” Sue says.
Although Matthew has been out of treatment for five years, the family has still had plenty of struggles to contend with, from fears of relapse to mourning the typical childhood milestones that Matthew never got to experience. However, the Ericksons are holding on to hope.
“Matthew shows us hope every single day,” Sue says. “Regardless of how this journey had gone, we would have seen hope through it all.”
Matthew’s infectious personality is a big part of that.
“He completely just breathes life. And that’s something that just let us know day in and day out that the fight was worth it for us,” Sue says.
Indeed, Matthew’s medical challenges have never gotten in the way of his joy and love of laughter.
“He’s definitely just a clown. He can’t be serious for two seconds,” Sue says. “He always makes people laugh and I think that making other people happy makes him happy.”
When the Ericksons first found out that Matthew would have serious medical problems, they declared a song over him called “All of Me” by Matt Hammitt. The inspiration from the lyrics is something that has come to define the family’s experience:
“No matter what happens, and no matter how many tears we cry and no matter how hard the journey gets, we will give Matthew all of whatever it is that we have. We won’t be afraid to love him out of fear of losing him,” Sue says.
Hope, and love that conquers fear: Matthew Erickson may only be five years old, but his life has already inspired some pretty powerful stuff.
“His scars do not define him, the cancer does not define him, none of that stuff will define him,” Sue says. “He is defined by something much greater than we can ever wrap our heads around.”