Benefit to aid sick Branchville firefighter

Published 8:51 am Friday, October 2, 2009

BRANCHVILLE—Firefighters from Branchville, Boykins and Newsoms are selling tickets for a spaghetti dinner to benefit 20-year-old Joshua Woods, a Branchville firefighter who has been battling cancer for more than two years.

Tickets are $7 and can be purchased from any member of the Branchville, Boykins or Newsoms fire departments. They are also available for purchase at Franklin Lawn & Garden Center, located at 26433 General Thomas Highway in Newsoms.

Meals will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Boykins Firehouse, 18139 N. Railroad St., and include spaghetti, bread, salad and a dessert. Tickets can also be purchased at the event.

“Joshua loves firefighting,” Branchville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Justin Overby said Thursday. “I heard him during a radio interview once and that’s all he talked about.”

Barbara Woods, Joshua’s mother, said her son was first diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor — called a nongerminomatous germ cell tumor, a type of pediatric cancer — in August 2007, and began treatment at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk.

“Joshua followed a protocol that called for six rounds of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation,” Barbara Woods said in a written statement. She said her son finished the initial treatment at CHKD in the spring of 2008, but follow-up scans in October of that year showed the cancer had returned to another location of his brain and in his spine.

“He has been receiving treatment since that time,” she said, which included several cycles of recovery and high-dose chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant. Her son appeared cancer-free at the beginning of the summer, but follow-up scans in August showed the cancer had returned for a second time and “was growing again at an extremely fast rate,” she said.

Joshua Woods was then moved to the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to participate in a clinical trial. According to his mother, Joshua’s health declined quickly while he was waiting for treatment.

“(He) lost his ability to walk, his desire to eat, his vision was affected, he was in constant pain, and he came very close to losing this ability to speak,” she said. But after one cycle of the experimental treatment, he “regained his strength, all the pain has subsided, his appetite has returned, his vision is back to normal and his balance and ability to walk are improving daily,” she said.

“We are very grateful for the treatment Joshua has been able to receive at CHKD under the direction of Dr. Herbert Bevan, as well as under the direction of Dr. Roger Packer at the Children’s National Medical Center,” Barbara Woods said. “But most of all we are amazed at the power and mercy of God. We give God all the glory for Joshua’s speedy recovery and continue to expect great things.”