By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
If you pass Lincoln High School in Shinnston, you may have noticed that for months one of the messages flashing across the school’s electronic sign near the road said “Cameron Stronng”. Simulating the “Army Strong” logo, it was a reminder to everyone to keep positive thoughts and prayers going for Cameron Wade, a senior at Lincoln High School.
On August 30th, just shortly after school resumed, Cameron was seriously injured in a dirt bike accident in Wetzel County. He was accustomed to riding a dirt bike; it is a sport his family has participated in for years. On that day, although he was wearing a helmet, he bounced off the ground so hard that the helmet just wasn’t enough protection. He was life-flighted to Morgantown where he immediately underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
His parents, Chris and Becky Wade of Wallace, were told that an injury of this extent usually takes years to recover from – if you’re lucky! Cameron was in an induced coma for a while so that the blood vessels in the brain would narrow, decreasing the amount of space occupied by the brain – hence decreasing intracranial pressure. The desired outcome is that with swelling relieved, some or all brain damage can be averted. When he was brought out of the coma, Cameron was sent to Pittsburgh for brain rehabilitation. Again, his parents were told that his stay at UPMC would probably be at least a month.
“Those were pretty stressful weeks for us,” his father Chris stated. “Cameron is one of four children, and we were very blessed that none of our children were ever in need of a doctor for anything serious – no stitches, no broken bones, or anything like that. So this kind of worry was not something we had any experience with.”
Pittsburgh suddenly became the family’s home away from home! Cameron’s mother used all the sick leave she had to be at the hospital, and his father, too, missed eight weeks of work.
There is often cognitive impairment recovering from a coma, and Cameron did not remember anything for about a week, his father noted. But this is one of those tragic stories with a happy ending! According to his father, you would never know today what his son has been through.
“After just two and half weeks of rehab at Mercy Hospital, the doctors told us they thought he was able to leave and would fare just as well in his home environment – as long as he continued with outpatient therapy,” Chris added. “There was some memory deficiency at first, but he is doing well now. He is at about 90% or a little better, although he still is in speech therapy – more for mental workings than for his speech.”
Cameron was released from doctors’ care on February 25th and returned to his school routine on February 27th – his 18th birthday! His first day back at Lincoln was a real celebration. Cameron was welcomed by staff and many students wearing their “Cameron Strong” t-shirts.
Cameron’s doctors have been astounded by his miraculous recovery! However, his family says that perhaps a better explanation might be that their son was on prayer lists in all 50 states during the past six months.
“I can’t say enough about the support we have received,” Christ continued. “Many strong friendships developed out of this tragedy. Lots of students purchased “Cameron Strong” t-shirts that were made by Team Time Design in Shinnston. The students also wore “Cameron Strong” wrist bracelets. They put together and sent snacks to the hospital. And during a powder puff football game, they called my wife onto the field and made a donation to us. One community had a benefit ATV ride for Cameron and through raffles, etc., they raised $7,000 in just one day. People came whether they knew us or not! The support we received was overwhelming – from the community, from the school, from friends and family, from co-workers and our employers. It has been amazing and very humbling for all of us.”
Cameron is driving again with supervision and traveled to Charleston with friends last week to see the Lady Cougars play in the quarterfinals of the State Basketball Tournament. He has done some homebound studies to help catch him up and is preparing to graduate with his class at the end of the school year.
It is nice to learn that once in a while there is a joyful ending to unfortunate catastrophes. “Cameron Strong” is one of those.