Ashley High student keeping high spirits in fight against cancer

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WILMINGTON – Ashley High School student Skylar Martin is in need of thoughts and prayers more than ever right now; the 15-year-old is in an ongoing battle with cancer that began last fall.

Skylar started his freshman year at Ashley as member of the varsity football team and by passing his test for a driver’s permit. He was looking forward to a life typical of any other high school-aged teenager.

Skylar Martin, left, and his mom, Jennifer Joye Phillips during the Steve Haydu Lo Tide Run on St. Patrick's Day. Photos courtesy- Jennifer Joye Phillips.
Skylar Martin, left, and his mom, Jennifer Joye Phillips during the Steve Haydu Lo Tide Run in Carolina Beach on St. Patrick’s Day. (Photos courtesy of Jennifer Joye Phillips)

Skylar, however, received heartbreaking news on Nov. 23, 2016, when he was diagnosed with leukemia at UNC Chapel Hill Children’s Hospital.

In what has been a long road over the last couple of months due to chemotherapy treatments, extended testing and hospital stays, Martin’s upbeat attitude has kept his family in good spirits.

“Skylar has been absolutely amazing,” said Skylar’s mother, Jennifer Phillips.  “His spirits are great and he is called the ‘mayor’ in the Chapel Hill Clinic and on his admitting floor. They all love him.

“He has kept me going many days even giving me adult like encouraging words,” Phillips added. “He is truly just a great kid. He has a totally different outlook on life for sure.”

As initial treatments winded down, leading into the next phase of medical care through the end of the year, Martin was placed in Intensive Care Unit at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and air lifted to Chapel Hill. He was then diagnosed with diabetes, his blood sugar levels had reached over 600.

“We are four months in and still not in full remission,” Phillips said. “He had a fever and was tired for a few days back in November. Masonboro Urgent Care did a blood screen and found it. His pediatrician almost let us go home as a virus until they saw the labs from urgent care.

“We have spent probably more than 30 nights at Chapel Hill. Currently, he is spending every other week in the hospital,” she said. “He may need a bone marrow transplant, which would be a very long stay at Chapel Hill. Or he may possibly be able to receive CAR-T immunotherapy from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Either way we may be temporarily locating for these treatments for months.”

Despite the challenges Skylar Martin has faced, he's been a rock for his family.
Despite the challenges Skylar Martin has faced, he’s been a rock for his family.

Despite many reasons to stay home when he is able to sleep in his own bed, the big Carolina Panthers and North Carolina State fan is trying to live as normal a life as possible right now.   He recently attended the Steve Haydu Lo Tide Run on St. Patrick’s Day. Ironically, the race is to help members of the community who are battling cancer and in financial need.

“(The) Steve Haydu foundation is amazing and has been a blessing to our family,” Phillips added.  “We had a team of 62 and Skylar was there and walked the 5k. I was so proud. We are hosting a blood drive on June 10th at Beau Rivage and I am working on hosting a bone marrow donor drive very soon.”

With his mom Jennifer travelling back and forth from Wilmington to Chapel Hill and potentially as far away as Philadelphia for treatment, expenses have been piling up and family friend Sharece Moffett Teter started a Pray for Skylar Martin Medical GoFundMe Page.  Click here to contribute to Martin and his family in their mission to Live Strong.