Friday, July 20, 2007A Wish Come True
No matter how big or small, you can still get lung cancer.A Wish Come True
Written by Letitia Baldwin
The Ellsworth America
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Sullivan Boy with Lung Cancer Gets a Playground of His Own
SULLIVAN — He’s swung to his heart’s content at Jordan’s Snack Bar, patrolled the ramparts of the Dr. Charles C. Knowlton School Community Playground, flown down the slide next to the Sorrento-Sullivan Recreational Center and knows his way around just about every other playground in Hancock County.
Gabriel Grant’s eyes, though, grew very big when he spied the elaborate playground that magically had sprung up late last week in the front yard of his Transfer Station Road home in East Sullivan.
It had been thrilling enough for the 2½-year-old boy to sit up front with Sullivan firefighter Ken Gray and go for a spin in the Sullivan fire truck.
Helped down from the fire truck, Gabriel took a little coaxing before he climbed up on the 30-foot-wide cedar structure made by Cedarworks in Rockport. The blue-eyed towhead cooled off in the canopied cupola, hoisted the bucket, spun the steering wheel, fiddled with the play phone, and explored every other feature of the new playground provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine.
“We chase playgrounds,” Tabitha Coombs, the 2½-year-old’s grandmother and legal guardian, related last Friday.
Coombs had warm words for the kindness shown by Make-A-Wish volunteers Ron and Joanne Hamilton when the Ellsworth couple asked her grandson whether there was anything special he wished for.
“People I hardly knew. I feel there’s a bond there,” Coombs said.
On Feb. 2, Grant was diagnosed with pulmonary blastoma (PB), a form of lung cancer, which is highly rare among children. The child had been plagued by a severe cough, initially diagnosed as bronchitis, which got much worse one night.
“He got coughing really badly in the middle of the night,” his grandmother recalled. “It sounded like someone had popped an air mattress.”
In the United States, only 24 pediatric cases of PB are reported annually. The Sullivan boy’s lung cancer was caught before it transitioned into the disease’s second stage. The same month as his diagnosis, the 2½-year-old started a weekly regimen of chemotherapy at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He is nearly halfway through his treatment.
“Gabe is really doing great,” Coombs said proudly. “You really can’t keep him down.”
All Friday, Coombs, her partner Scott Lee and the Hamiltons tried to keep the energetic Gabriel occupied while a two-man crew from Rent-A-Husband, a Portland-based business, spent the day assembling the multifaceted playground. The Holiday Inn in Ellsworth put up the crew overnight for free as its gesture to make Gabriel’s dream come true.
“A lot of kids go to Disney World and they are done. What makes this so cool is the fact Gabe will be able to enjoy this for years,” Ron Hamilton remarked.
Coombs, who originally lived in a tent and van before building her modest home on the Sullivan property, agreed. She plans to add a sandbox and small wading pool to the play area.
“It’s no Taj Mahal,” she said, watching her grandson explore the playground. “But it’s home.”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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