Girl gives iPod savings to man fighting cancer

Dec 31 2012 - 6:54am

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Rich Thompson holds a jar of money Madison Shreve raised by making and selling friendship bracelets. The money will go toward his medical bills in his fight against pancreatic cancer. (Courtesy photo)
Madison Shreve, with the help of friends, made and sold friendship bracelets and gave the proceeds to Rich Thompson, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (Courtesy photo)
Rich Thompson holds a jar of money Madison Shreve raised by making and selling friendship bracelets. The money will go toward his medical bills in his fight against pancreatic cancer. (Courtesy photo)
Madison Shreve, with the help of friends, made and sold friendship bracelets and gave the proceeds to Rich Thompson, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (Courtesy photo)

ROY -- A local girl's desire for an iPod Touch quickly turned into a charitable act when she found out her dad's friend faced a brutal fight with cancer.

Eleven-year-old Madison Shreve had been making friendship bracelets since the beginning of summer and was selling them for $2 a piece when she heard that Rich Thompson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"I hardly knew anything about him, but I knew he was one of my dad's best friends in junior high and high school," she said. "I knew he had a daughter my age, and I just knew I needed to help him."

Up until that time, Madison had raised $40 toward the $200 iPod and had kept it in a special jar with the letters CTR written on the front. CTR is an acronym for Choose The Right, which also inspired Madison to do the right thing with her money.

"I started a Facebook page called Friend to Friend, and on it I told people about Rich," she said. "Pretty soon I was swamped with orders. I had so many that I asked four of my friends to help me make the bracelets, and we spent an entire day making some of them. I also sold some of them at a fundraiser for Rich this summer."

Some of the bracelets took the girls five minutes to make. Others, depending on how complicated they were, took upwards of an hour.

"It really was a lot of fun, and I knew it was for a good cause," Madison said. "Kids are strong, and we can make things happen."

On Dec. 14, Madison counted up the money and personally delivered it to Thompson.

"It came to $442 and some change, and the money is still coming in," she said. "He was excited and gave me a big hug."

Thompson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 10 months ago. By the time it was discovered, it had metastasized to his liver.

"I was misdiagnosed three times," he said. "They thought it was ulcers and my gallbladder and gastric reflux. The pain in my stomach and back finally got so bad one night that I ended up in the ER, and the doctor there was smart enough to do a CT scan, and that's when they found the tumors."

Thompson was admitted to Huntsman Cancer Institute and underwent six months of grueling chemotherapy treatments.

"Because the cancer is aggressive, the treatment was also aggressive," he said. "I was pretty much sick every day, but the tumors went from the size of a softball down to the size of a golf ball, and now they're the size of a big marble."

The American Cancer Society states the lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer is about one in 71 people. Since 2004, the rates have increased by 1.5 percent per year. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the early symptoms of pancreatic cancer are vague and can mimic several other problems.

When symptoms do start to show, they can include pain in the upper abdomen and middle part of the back, dark urine, pale stools, yellowing of the skin and eyes and nausea and vomiting.

"The survival rate of pancreatic cancer is less than 1 percent," Thompson said. "I feel really fortunate that my body is responding to the treatment, and I am determined to be one of the less than 1 percent of survivors."

Thompson said he is amazed at the selfless actions of such a young girl.

He said:

"She's a very special little girl. I am amazed and so impressed by her generosity."

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