South Ridge Sophomore Matt Wood Beats Cancer to get Back on the Ballfield
CULVER - South Ridge 2nd baseman Matt Wood looks like a normal sophomore middle infielder.
“I played a little bit of catcher and pitcher. Some outfield,” says South Ridge sophomore Matt Wood, “but just found myself on 2nd base.”
But Matt is not your typical 10th grader.
“When I'd lie down I could just feel the weight on my chest,” says Matt, “Just pushing down and I couldn't breathe.”
A simple check-up, changed matt's life.
“I thought maybe he needed an inhaler,” says Matt’s mother Kathy Wood, “So, I brought him into the doctor and that's when we found it.”
An x–ray showed a large lump in Matt's chest.
“Same night I had a CT scan,” says Matt, “and that's when they could see there was activity.”
It was Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
“Surgery for the biopsy of the tumor. Next day after that is surgery to put the port in,” says Matt, “The next day after that was chemotherapy.”
Scary for anyone, especially a 14 year old, despite a 90 percent recovery rate.
“You still have that 10 percent in the back of your mind the whole time,” says Matt, “not knowing is what scared me the most.”
Matt and his family battled through chemo and radiation. Wood missing his freshman baseball season.
“It was different not having him out there,” says Matt’s brother Daniel Wood, “looking at 2nd base, someone else is there. It was definitely harder to play.”
But it was baseball that became his escape from everyday reality.
“We were playing at Wade Stadium against Albrook,” says Matt, “We got out of the hospital for a couple hours and I got to see the game. For that short of time you have a sense of freedom.”
“Even when he was going through Chemo, we'd go outside and play catch when he was feeling good,” says Daniel, “I'd bring him in the cage. He was still hittin' balls. He was still doing what he could.”
Matt joining the 90 percent cure rate in September with a new outlook on life.
“In some ways the cancer was better for me,” says Matt, “If it wasn't cancerous they would have had to do open heart surgery to take the whole thing out and cut me all open.”
Matt still not at 100 percent and is still going for monthly check-ups.
“He still has a mass in his chest that is kind of like the shell from the lymphoma and its filled with some fluid,” says Kathy, “but it's cancer free and should continue to shrink.”
In this year of transitions recovering from Hodgkins Lymphoma not the only thing for Matt to overcome, his school Cotton closed down and he had to start a new school year at a new school.
“It's a big change but it's nothing,” says Matt, “still like to be at my other school. I only had 7 kids in my class went up to 56 kids or so. It's a big change.”
Matt finding his place at the "big" new school, he began playing junior varsity basketball this winter.
“The first week of practice he could barely run around the gym,” says South Ridge Baseball and JV Basketball coach Travis Paulson, “Week by week you seen it get better and that was a pretty neat process.”
After tons of running Matt made his return to the diamond in the spring.
“Kind of have the feeling that everyone is supporting you,” says Matt, “right then and there.”
“Thats when it really hit me,” says Kathy, “that we've gone full circle.”
That second baseman is certainly more than meets the eye.
“No words can describe how much thanks I have to my parents,” says Matt, “I had a couple people, one really special, texted me every day. I can't explain how much thanks I have for those people.”