By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A local Marine is home for Christmas, getting a warm welcome from family and friends at the Lubbock airport early Saturday morning. While serving overseas this Lubbock Cooper graduate found his battles aren't over, and that he will be fighting his biggest one yet here at home; A battle with cancer.
A big sign that read: "Welcome Home Maxx Pope. We missed you!" waited for 21-year-old Maxx to walk out of the terminal. With family and friends clapping, Vanessa Pope, was the first to hug her son. His high school sweetheart, Adrian, was next.
One by one, Maxx made his way to each family member to give hugs and thanks. "It's great we're thrilled to have him. We're proud of him. You know, you miss your kids when they're gone for a day, you sure miss them when they're gone for 7 months," said Brad Holcomb, Maxx's Father.
When asked how it felt to be home for the holidays, Maxx replied "It's probably the best thing that's happened all year."
Maxx enlisted with the Marines in 2008 right after graduating from Cooper High School and being named pitcher of the year for the Pirates. Little did he know, two years later he would come face to face with his high school mascot.
"There were some Somali pirates that took over a ship off the coast of Somalia. They sent a distress call out to us, we went in and re-captured the ship, and took the pirates down," Pope said.
But this would be a minor battle compared to the war that was soon to come. "We knew they were going to do a routine hernia surgery on him. About 3 o'clock Thanksgiving morning we got a call that there had been complications in the surgery, and that he was on a ventilator," Holcomb said.
Maxx was rushed to the nearest hospital on land in the Philippines where he stayed hooked up to a ventilator for 24 hours.
"We went several hours without hearing anything. It was a pretty tough day but we began to get reports that they had done an x-ray of his chest," said Holcomb. "He had a grapefruit sized mass in his chest."
After a week Maxx was transported to California's medical center where he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer.
"It's devastating. Any parent, they don't want their children to be sick or hurt. We realize he's receiving excellent care," said Holcomb. "He's obviously in terrific physical condition, he's young, and the prognosis is very good so it's just a journey we have to take to get him well."
Maxx is now on limited duty and is attached to a wounded warrior unit. The day after Christmas he will return to the California Medical Center for chemotherapy treatment.
"He's still a marine, and very proud to be. We're just proud of him," said Holcomb fighting back tears.
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