MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 17, 2013

Hilldale pitches in for educator’s son

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Josh Nixon says Dec. 12, 2012, is “a hard day to ever forget.”

That was the day that the Hilldale High School assistant principal learned that his son Maverick, 4, has Stage 4 neuroblastoma, he said. The family has made several trips to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for Maverick’s treatment, he said.

The family also has received an outpouring of help and support from Hilldale Public Schools, he said.

“The schools have been great,” Nixon said. “It’s really opened up our eyes. I haven’t been here long, but they treat us like family, like we’ve been here a long time.”

Hilldale is raising money to help the family offset costs of treatment and the trips to Arkansas. The school will sell “Team Maverick” T-shirts and wristbands at the Hornets’ home game against its major rival, Fort Gibson, at 6:30 p.m. today.

“If you ever met Maverick, you’d fall in love with him,” said Debbie Smith, a Hilldale administrative assistant who is helping spearhead the fundraiser. “He is an amazing boy with a lot of spunk and spirit.”

The T-shirt and wristband sales will continue after Thursday, she said. T-shirts cost $15 and wrist bands $4. The school also is seeking to sell hoodies.

“This will be an ongoing thing,” Smith said. “People can call us or email us to buy a shirt. In February, we are planning a variety show if people are interested.”

Nixon said that Maverick, who will turn 5 in March, has lost his hair as a result of chemotherapy. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t know anything is wrong with him,” he said.

Nixon said the family first suspected a problem when Maverick complained while brushing his teeth. The Nixons took the boy to his doctor for blood testing. After several blood tests, doctors said they suspected either mononucleosis or leukemia.

“We were praying for mono,” Nixon recalled.

The diagnosis ended up neuroblastoma. The National Cancer Institute says neuroblastoma is a cancer that often begins in nerve tissue. It can spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Stage 4 indicates the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.

Nixon said the family was fortunate that Maverick’s tumor was found in his jaw area.

“A lot of times it’s growing in the stomach area or spine,” he said, adding that the family felt that its appearance in such an easily noticeable area was “something God did.”

The family must go to Little Rock every three to five weeks, Nixon said.

“It’s a five-day treatment plan, but it’s on the weekend,” he said.

Nixon’s wife teaches school in Quinton. The Nixons live in Stigler and have a second son, 8-month-old Sawyer.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

You can help

Team Maverick T-shirts and wristbands will be on sale at the Hilldale basketball game at 6:30 p.m. today at 400 E. Smith Ferry Road. They can also be ordered by calling Debbie Smith at Hilldale Public Schools, (918) 683-0273. T-shirts are $15, and wristbands are $4. Proceeds will help the Josh Nixon family handle expenses related to their son Maverick’s treatment for Stage 4 neuroblastoma.