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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

‘Sophia Strong’; South wrestling holds event for special 6-year-old 

By DON HIMSEL

Staff Writer

On Wednesday night when Nashua High School South’s Matt Lamarche and the rest of the Panther wrestling team took on the visiting Bedford Bulldogs, Lamarche’s 6-year-old sister Sophia was the toughest one in the room.

Sophia Lamarche, of Nashua, was diagnosed this summer with medulloblastoma. She’s faced an almost 9-hour-long surgery to remove a tumor from her brain stem in what her mother called Wednesday “the longest day of their lives.” ...

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On Wednesday night when Nashua High School South’s Matt Lamarche and the rest of the Panther wrestling team took on the visiting Bedford Bulldogs, Lamarche’s 6-year-old sister Sophia was the toughest one in the room.

Sophia Lamarche, of Nashua, was diagnosed this summer with medulloblastoma. She’s faced an almost 9-hour-long surgery to remove a tumor from her brain stem in what her mother called Wednesday “the longest day of their lives.”

Her family’s long ordeal was made a bit easier Wednesday night before the event as family, friends, and strangers gathered not only to watch the match, but to come together for the pint-sized girl.

Sophia’s mother, Shannon, stood before the crowd and made remarks. Her daughter, shy but smiling, spent time in her arms or with friends, wearing a grey “Sophia Strong” T-shirt and a knit cap on her head.

“We as a family were devastated,” she said as she retold the story of Sophia’s diagnosis and treatment so far.

Eventually, the youngster faced radiation treatment. She lost her hair, but not her spirit.

When her hair finally started falling out, she said, “I don’t care. I’m going to rock being bald and beautiful.”

Sophia beamed widely as people clapped and cheered following a slideshow of family photos chronicling her ordeal so far. After the athletes warmed up, a path of red paper was unfurled for her. Brother Matt carried her in his arms to preside over the customary coin flip to begin the match. On either side of the red carpet were the school’s cheer team.

Sophia just started another round of chemotherapy. She’ll do it every Friday for 12 months.

“Every week is different. Every week will be a battle,” Shannon said. “Sophia has a fight in her that we have never seen. She surprises us every day. Even when she’s having a bad day, she still has so much strength. She’s given us hope and courage to fight this fight. We couldn’t be any more proud of her.

“We hope everyone can learn from her,” Shannon said, encouraging people to “find the fight inside that you didn’t know existed.”

“Fight every day for what you want and never give up,” she said. “Sophia will never give up. We will never give up. Together we are Sophia Strong.”

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-1249, dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DonH.