April can’t come soon enough for the Zender family from Sayville.
That’s when 16-year-old Matt Zender will have completed 30 weeks of chemotherapy and doctors will review CT scans to see how the cancer in Matt’s leg has responded to the treatment.
“We anticipate he will complete chemo in late March, with follow-up scans two to four weeks later,” said Matt’s dad Mark. “So, we are cautiously optimistic we can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate sometime in April.”
Matt, a junior honors student and fencing team captain at Sayville High School, was diagnosed last June with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer, in his right lower leg. He received 10 treatments of chemotherapy over the summer, before undergoing a 14-hour limb-salvage surgery at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in October.
Mark Zender said his son — a triplet along with his siblings Christopher and Katie – is 16 weeks into a 20-week, post-surgery chemotherapy regimen. has four rounds of chemotherapy treatment left; three wil reqire lengthy hospital stays.
“If there is something to emphasize – it’s Matt’s attitude, his upcoming completion of chemo and our gratitude for everyone’s support,” said Mark Zender, a physician’s assistant at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson. “He is getting worn down and can’t wait for it to be done, but overall, he’s still smiling and singing.”
Smiling indeed. Matt’s beaming smile and positive demeanor typically highlight his father’s Facebook updates on Matt’s progress.
The Sayville community and its neighbors have been extremely supportive of Matt and his family, holding multiple fundraisers — including a GoFundMe campaign started by Matt’s varsity fencing coach — to help offset the medical costs associated with Matt’s cancer treatment, as well as a meal train to help the Zenders not stress over dinner and other meals.