‘I felt like a princess’: 12-year-old cancer patient’s dreams come true at St. George Island
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The power of social media has granted a 12-year-old girl her wish.
Israelle Mattocks has been battling stage four neuroblastoma for almost 10 years.
Last month, the Indiana native was taken off treatment and decided to make one last wish: a month-long stay at the beach.
Thanks to a GoFundMe page and the community of Franklin County, this young lady is now living the dream.
Israelle is happiest when she’s at her favorite spot. As she sits on the couch in her new home away from home she expresses, “I just really like the waves and the sand, and I really like collecting seashells,” she said.
At the age of three, Israelle, better known as Izzy, was diagnosed with cancer.
Throughout the years, it’s been a series of relapses and treatments as the cancer continued to spread. According to her GoFundMe page, in her short life, Izzy has endured 2 surgeries, 6 relapses, 1 stem cell transplant, 1 stem cell rescue, 2 rounds of MIBG, more than thirty rounds of radiation, and more than 100 rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Izzy’s mom, Molly, shares that her latest round of treatment hit her little girl the worst. The cancer, has now spread to virtually every joint, muscle, and area of her body.
In January of this year, her last trial took a toll on her, “Her team met with us and decided to stop the treatment,” with tears in her eyes, Molly explains, “And our doctor just encouraged us to do something that Izzy always wanted to do.”
That’s when friends and family made the GoFundMe page, raising thousands of dollars.
But Molly says there was still one problem, “Even though we had the funds, it was extremely difficult to find a place for a month, on such short notice.”
Nikki West, a Tallahassee resident, and homeowner at Saint George Island, came into the picture and offered her home. She says the post spoke to her and that she had to help, “Izzy could be here a week or a month,” shares West, “and it just sat with my heart to think that it could be me, it could be you, it could be all of us, just not knowing how long we have with our child.”
But, thousands of miles away, the beach still seemed unreachable.
“The first couple of times I am talking to Nikki, I am talking to Izzy in the hospital, and she is completely sedated on a pain pump and I am thinking to myself, I don’t even know how realistic this is,” recalled Izzy’s mom.
However, Izzy got better, and within a couple of weeks, Izzy’s journey to the beach began.
When Franklin County and surrounding areas in WCTV’s viewing area heard of Izzy’s arrival, gifts started pouring in.
“It’s been unbelievable, this community here that doesn’t even know us at all, and is just like it’s not about the money, they just want to help us and just use your money to take care of your family. It’s been really humbling,” said Izzy’s mom.
And the best part? A police escort by Franklin County’s finest upon Izzy’s arrival.
“We wanted her to feel welcomed, we wanted her to feel good, and have some joy in her life,” shares Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff AJ Smith, “We wanted her initial experience to be perfect.”
The gestures of strangers to make this dream happen have meant the world to Izzy, “It’s definitely a dream that I am going to wake up from, and be really sad about. But now I know that I am here and it’s definitely exciting.”
For Izzy, the chance to breathe in the ocean air and dip her toes in the water is what she calls “her corner of paradise.”
WCTV’s Sophia Hernandez asked Izzy while walking along the beach, “Think about it, if in two months from now you are back in the hospital, what are you going to be thinking about then to get you through?”
With a smile on her face, Izzy responds, “This place.”
The generosity of the Big Bend community does not stop there.
Izzy will be turning 13 a month from Wednesday. West has coordinated for another dream of Izzy’s to happen-seeing llamas.
Sheriff AJ Smith has also offered to help with another wish. Izzy told him she wanted to see dolphins, and Smith says he will happily take the family on a boat ride to make that come true.
The Mattocks would like to thank all of those who have sent crafts, games, food, and more. They would also like to thank the Franklin County community, the restaurants, shops and people that have made them feel welcome.
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