Haley Matheson hopes to celebrate late Christmas with her family – Bluefield student awaits bone marrow transplant in Halifax

By Steve Clarke

Jan. 20, 2017

Haley Matheson’s spends her days in a hospital with morphine, anti fungal, antibiotics and steroids running through her veins.

Matheson became sick with a cold in early December.

Weeks passed, then two days before Christmas, her mother took her to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Her symptoms worsened.

Doctors suspected leukemia.

The next day, she arrived at IWK health centre in Halifax.

It was a week of blood transfusions and testing. Friends and family prayed for answers. On Dec. 31, specialists had a diagnosis.

Aplastic anemia.

It is a deficiency of the blood cells caused by a failure in bone marrow development that renders one vulnerable to uncontrolled bleeding and infections.

The cause is unknown.

Haley needs a bone marrow transplant.

Madison Vincent, a member of Bluefield high school’s student council, heard about Haley through a gofundme page over Christmas break, where $4,425 has been raised for Matheson, over half of the $8,000 goal.

She was saddened by Matheson’s condition, as well as her brother’s position. He is the ideal donor for the transplant.

He is only 11-years-old.

Vincent knew she had to help this family. She took action.

“We weren’t going to tell her at first, but we figured she would find out through social media anyway. We asked her what her favourite spirit days were.”

They started with flannel day, Matheson’s favourite spirit day. Then purple day. Matheson’s favourite colour.

Spirit day participation on average reaches about 80 people, said Vincent.

She went class to class to collect donations and almost the whole school was wearing flannels.

One student approached her.

“I don’t own a flannel but I’m wearing it in my heart.”

When they went around for donations, they didn’t expect to get that much money. People would give all they could. Some handed her $100 bills.

Around the same time, Matheson’s homeroom culinary class baked several batches of cookies.

The cookies were covered in purple icing, with the letter H written in white.

Other students were also inspired.

Calvin Ching heard about the diagnosis weeks later through a gofundme page on facebook. Someone from the school being in a life or death situation surprised him.

Ching knew the student council was hosting events in her name, but there was a problem.

Matheson wasn’t there.

Then he had an idea.

He was going to sell his current artwork as well as stylized prints of Matheson’s face, and donate the proceeds to Matheson.

Customers praised his work. The variety of prints made it difficult to reach a decision, they said.

He raised $360.

“I don’t know how that feels. I can’t explain it.”

He paused.

“I just wanted to help someone.”

Ching held a live spray-painting session outside in the courtyard.

It is a small square garden in the centre of the building surrounded by windows on both floors.

Nearly 100 students pressed up against the glass to watch Ching go to work.

“Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up,” he thought.

He messed up, but tried again.

“It was stressful. I’ve never actually painted in front of that many people. I’ve got thousands of views on my spray paintings on Youtube.”

The result was beautiful.

He received a message from Matheson thanking him for the donations and praising his talent. She asked for a print of her own.

“That made me feel good.”

He gave her his best wishes.

“I just do stuff on instinct, and if someone needs help, it’s my instinct to do what I can, because it takes courage to step up and help someone you don’t even know.”

Matheson is terrified for the next few months, but she can’t wait to go home and have life return to normal, she said in an online interview.

She misses her house very much and wants to see her family, her pets, and sleep in her own bed, she said.

“And finally have Christmas.”

Matheson is expected to go into surgery Feb. 1.