Nineteen months ago, Carrick Wood of Adams was born into this world and rushed into intensive care.
He was diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer that typically develops in men and women over the age of 45. His parents, Crista and Pat Wood, and his older brother, Conner, began sharing the boy's trials and tribulations via a Facebook page called "Carrick's Journey," capturing the hearts and prayers of more than a thousand family members, friends and strangers.
Carrick's cancer has since gone into remission, but the chemotherapy treatments have done a number on his little body, including his heart. He was diagnosed in December with another rare condition for someone his age, restrictive cardiomyopathy with pulmonary hypertension. "Fancy words for heart failure," Pat Wood posted on Facebook.
In a phone conversation, Crista told County Fare that basically the left side of Carrick's heart isn't working. "He could use a new heart like yesterday," she said. But patients typically have to be cancer-free for three years before receiving a heart transplant. The growing boy's age is also a factor doctors have to weigh for a procedure.
"It's one of those things," Crista said. "You end chemo and think you're on the home stretch and then you're dealt with another blow."
But life isn't all despair. The medications Carrick is currently on are helping to keep him a stable and active toddler. "He's such a character," Crista said.
The family also continue to receive an outpouring of support.
A couple of weeks ago, Titus' parents, Mark and Kenzie Johnson, and local photographer Angela Dimock of the "Lens of Love" project, got to surprise Carrick with a special care package: A pair of custom-painted sneakers, along with a book and toys inspired by Carrick's favorite book, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle.
The sneakers were purchased from "Peach's Neet Feet," a charitable organization that provides custom painted sneakers by Madison "Peach" Steiner to raise the spirits of children living with disabilities and fighting serious illnesses.
Said Kenzie Johnson, "Titus was unable to receive a "Make a Wish" due to being under the age of 2 1/2 years old. So it was then Mark and I decided that in Titus's legacy and honor, we would like to start raising money to put into his Titus's Journey With Leukemia Benefit account at Greylock Federal Credit Union in Pittsfield, to be able to help send some of these local families on at least a day trip with their sick child, and make amazing memories for them."
While the couple wasn't able to fund a trip, they were able to donate the gifts and capture the moment in photos.
"They're honoring Titus in such a great way," Crista said.
Last week The Ashley Wade Foundation, which also supports chronically ill children and their families, sent Carrick and his brother Conner a care package of toys and clothing.
Said Pat in a post to the followers of Carrick's Journey: "It is our goal to be home and enjoy every day with our amazing son, have fun, laugh, go on adventures, and enjoy the moment. Thank you for following and supporting us. This fight is not over."