Monroeville firefighters help family of boy diagnosed with brain tumor
It takes a little time for Matthew Jacko to complete a sentence, but those who love him hang on to every word.
“We just let him talk, however he wants to talk,” said his mother, Carey Mynahan-Jacko.
In April, after Matthew celebrated his seventh birthday, he was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor.
Carey said the family experienced a range of emotions.
“It can't be, how can it be, why didn't we know?” she said.
From the time Matthew was born, he developed faster than most children, his mother said. When he was 3, he stripped the training wheels from his bike and taught himself to ride on two wheels. By the time he was 7, he was playing baseball and football with plans of signing up for soccer.
“He was a sports guy,” said Brian Jacko, his father.
Then, last April, the results of an X-ray set Matthew apart in a different way. Since doctors discovered the tumor, his motor skills have regressed, causing his speech to slow. Doctors predict that he might soon lose the ability to walk, his parents said.
As the family copes with Matthew's condition, the bills never stop mounting. They also have a daughter who is a senior at Gateway.
But they're not doing it alone. Carey said the support from family, friends and strangers has strengthened her faith in humanity.
“It just kind of baffles me,” Carey said. “There really are good people out there, and they don't want anything in return.”
Last fall, members of Monroeville Fire Co. 5 spent $3,000 from their budget to build a path and a ramp that are wheelchair-accessible, from the family's driveway to the rear of their Monroeville home. Without it, Brian would have to carry Matthew up a flight of steps.
They also constructed a deck extending from the family's back door.
“If he's going to be in a wheelchair, he shouldn't be confined to the house,” said Stan Karwoski, a volunteer firefighter who spearheaded the project.
“At least he can get out on the deck when it's nice.
After his workday ended, Karwoski would measure, saw and hammer outside the Jacko home until the sun went down.
“I can't tell you how much time this man has put in to this kid's home,” said Ron Harvey, Co. 5 fire chief. “He undertook this humongous job that started as just a sidewalk.”
While some helped with their time and expertise, others donated money. Fundraisers were held, and a Matthew Jacko Fund was established to, in part, help make up for the hours both parents have lost at work.
Three months passed between the time Karwoski first met Matthew and he began working at their home.
“The decline in that short amount of time, it was heart wrenching,” he said. “They're strong, they really are. From talking to them and learning what a regular day for them is like, that takes a hell of a person.”
Matthew's physician too, has seen what the family has endured since their son's diagnosis.
“Matthew really is a trouper,” said Dr. Regina Jakacki, director of the neuro-oncology program at UPMC Children's hospital.
“The younger children don't compare themselves (to their peers) as much as teenagers and adults. He keeps everyone smiling.
“He makes it easier for everyone to be strong.”
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.