SOMERSET In 2016, the family of Matthew Pierce has a single wish: for the 20-year-old aspiring Marine to be cancer free.
Pierce and his extended family shared his story at the Marine Corps League headquarters on High Street on New Years Eve.
A ceremony and presentations with the Young Marines from the Battleship Massachusetts and assembled Marine league members included Bruce Aldrich, the commandant, telling Pierce, Anything you need, youre our family now. Youre part of us.
Aldrich presented him an honorary membership and a miniature brass model of the Iwo Jima flag-raising memorial to bring to the hospital for good luck and courage.
Matt Pierce, who lives with his parents in Achushnet and Portsmouth, Rhode Island, was fulfilling a childhood dream studying war and peace at Norwich University in Vermont to become a commissioned Marine officer when unexpected adversity struck him.
Earlier this year, Matt suffered a bad bump on the back of his head after horsing around, which drew attention to a much more serious issue.
At first, doctors removed what they thought was a cyst before the family received his cancer diagnosis on Sept. 15.
Pierce has Ewings sarcoma, cancer of the bone and soft tissue, which occurs most frequently in children and teenagers.
Surgeons at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Womens Cancer Center have scheduled an operation to remove his malignant tumor mass and part of his skull, replacing it with a plate, his parents said.
The operation is scheduled for Jan. 12. The surgery follows seven rounds of chemotherapy treatment.
The recovery will be lengthy, said his mother, Christine Farley. It includes eight to 10 weeks in the hospital, five weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatment through June. Its a solid nine months, said Farley of Portsmouth.
Hes got the best attitude. We pulled him out of college, away from all of his friends. He never complained about it, Farley said, describing her sons maturity as this is a job I have to do.
There was only one bad night in late September after his 20th birthday when he questioned why this had happened to him.
Farley stood in the league headquarters next to Joan Pierce, Matts bonus Mom, and Farleys husband, John, Matts bonus Dad, as the family calls the step-parents. Matts dad, Steven, of Acushnet, also stood proudly in the family circle.
This has definitely been a uniting experience. Were all there for him, Joan Pierce said.
His siblings include brother Zachary Pierce, 14, and sister Cassidy Silva, 21, Joans daughter.