Petal community rallies around 13-year-old after cancer diagnosis

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 8:55 PM CDT
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PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - Mantras like “Max Strong” and “Prayers for Max” resonate in Petal this summer. The community is rallying around 13-year-old Max Fullen after an unexpected medical diagnosis.

“I’m just happy to be home because I can finally get some sleep, because when I was in the hospital, I could not get any sleep,” Max said, seated between his mom and dad and surrounded by his step-parents.

Max suffered a stroke on April 30 at school and was rushed to Forrest General Hospital. He was then airlifted to Batson’s Children’s Hospital in Jackson where he was in the ICU in critical condition with brain swelling.

Max’s dad, Randy Fullen, says it was difficult being at the hospital and now knowing what was wrong.

“We just knew we had to figure out what we could and when we finally got the answer, it was definitely an answer we didn’t want to hear,” Randy said.

“We were just devastated. It was completely unexpected,” said Max’s mom, Allyson Dodge.

Doctors diagnosed Max with diffused gliomatosis cerebri, a rare form of brain cancer with no standard treatment. He spent six weeks doing tests in hospital rooms before heading home to Petal.

Friends, neighbors and classmates wasted no time finding ways to help the family. People have hosted everything from car washes, to bake sales, to benefit nights with food and raffles to raise money. There is a GoFundMe for medical bills and an Amazon wish list with gifts for max.

“I want to say thank you to all the people who have sent me gifts,” Max said.

Most importantly the family is thankful for all of the love and prayers.

“Just the outpouring of love we, like we can never say thank you enough,” said Max’s step-mom, Heather Fullen.

“It’s not even the GoFundMes and the monetary support, it’s the support period. The emotional, and everybody being there for him and for us, and we need all of it right now,” said Zach Dodge, Max’s step-dad.

Randy says the prayers mean the most.

“If anything, you don’t have to send him anything,” Randy said.

“Please pray!” Max added.

There is a prayer vigil scheduled for Friday night at 7 p.m. at Max’s home at 123 Beverly Hills Loop in Petal.

Max’s family says they have plenty of fun surprises in store this summer and are looking forward to spending to quality time together. They invite people to join the Facebook Group #MAXSTRONG for updates about Max and how the family is doing.

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