By Dawn M Chiossi
Simple acts of kindness. at 12 years old, that’s the philosophy that Hackettstown resident Madeline (Maddy) Holloway lives by. She loves animals, cooking and baking, her family, movies, the beach, and makeup (a passion that stemmed from when she was just four years old). She plays softball and volleyball. In many ways she is a typical middle school student. Except she is facing the battle of her life–cancer.
Recently diagnosed just before Easter of this year with Osteosarcoma (originally thought to be Ewing Sarcoma), Holloway’s cancer was discovered via MRI when she went to the doctor suffering from hip pain, almost like a pulled muscle.
Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that begins in the cells that form bones. It most often forms in the long bones of the arms and legs, but can occur in any bone. The disease tends to occur in children and young adults.
Now this gregarious girl who is always ready to laugh, joke, and give to others, is now battling a cancer that leaves her exhausted and in pain.
“Maddy is now using a wheelchair or walker to move around due to the high amount of pain. Often Maddy will sleep in a new sit to stand recliner as it is too uncomfortable to sleep in her bed,” explains Lisa Holloway, Maddy’s Aunt. Additionally, when she heard of her niece’s plight, she immediately organized a GoFundMe Campaign to help out the family. The town of Hackettstown quickly followed, rallying around this generous girl, giving back, seeing what they could do, and generally just being supportive.
In the span of just one month, the campaign has raised approximately $29,845 of the $50,000 goal by 337 people and it is still on the upswing.
“I was informed that some parents have been left with medical bills in the hundreds of thousands after insurance. That made me panic about getting the best care for Maddy regardless of money. On top of that, her mother immediately had to take the Family Leave Act from her full time job to give full time care to her daughter,” Holloway relates.
She shares that Maddy is facing a minimum of one year chemotherapy and reconstructive hip surgery to remove the tumor and that all of her doctor visits and treatments take place at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City.
“Each round of chemo last for about six hours, four days per week,” Holloway explains. “Maddy had a port put in to make it easier to administer the chemotherapy drugs rather than constant needle sticks.”
In addition to the physical symptoms of nausea and exhaustion, Maddy is feeling anxiety about the unknown and sadness missing special times with her family and friends.
And she’s a typical girl as well. “She was also a little bit angry when she had to cut her hair due to her chemo,” Holloway confides. Upon seeing her niece who she describes as very loving and generous, and always willing to share, has this to say about her. “She’s the bravest, most selfless girl I’ve ever met.”
Upon hearing about Holloway’s situation, and learning that sometimes Maddy and her mother, Ann, have to take as many as three round trips into New York from New Jersey per week, the community of Hackettstown has metaphorically rolled up their sleeves and pitched in.
There’s an old adage that when people want to support others, but don’t exactly what to do, they should do it with food. Friends of the Holloway’s quickly did just that by organizing a food train to make sure that the family (which includes Maddy’s twin sister Sydney, and older sister Gemma) was well fed; that they didn’t have to worry about cooking or preparing meals during this difficult time.
“This is just amazing,” Holloway enthuses. “People have been so amazing rallying together for us. There’s been lots of homemade meals as well, delivery, gift cards such as GrubHub, it’s great to have that burden lifted off of us and know that everyone is getting a good meal.”
Hackettstown Middle School is doing their best to fundraise for Maddy as well. “Teachers at her school organized a ground of kids to make bracelets to sell at the Hackettstown Fair. Tee Shirts have been designed and are being sold for $10.00.” Holloway tells. Additionally, the softball teams will be selling homemade treats at all of their home games.
For herself, Holloway is awed by the support that the community has shown to help her family. “The amount of love and detail and willing to go above and beyond to make sure that my family is okay and surviving this battle is more than we can possibly describe,” she remarks. “From meals just to make sure that everyone is fed, to making sure that Maddy’s sisters have rides, or just checking in on us is so greatly appreciated.”
Maddy Holloway embraces that generosity and despite her condition, still seeks to share it with others. Her aunt relates that she had said this: “When I am all better I want to take whatever is left over and give it to the other kids in the hospital with cancer who need it, kids that don’t have the support system that I do.”
For further information or details, or to donate to Hope For Maddy, please visit www.gofundme.com/f/hope-for-maddy.