DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A spunky little boy who loved baseball and captured the hearts of those he met lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday.
Jonathan Mullis, 7, of Dover-Foxcroft, who had a lifetime of dreams to fulfill, was unable to beat the brain cancer that robbed him of his life.
At one point, it was thought that his early treatment, his positive attitude, and the love extended to him from his family and community were enough to have purged the disease. But even that was not enough in the end.
“He will be missed,” Burke Soileau, a Sebec resident and family friend, said Friday. Soileau, who had given Jonathan an assortment of autographed baseball memorabilia, said he could see from the look in the young boy’s eyes how much he appreciated everything in life.
Karen Goodman, second-grade teacher at SeDoMoCha Elementary School, said Jonathan would come to school with a smile and a positive attitude every morning.
“He was just very friendly, and he was a bright child,” she said.
Jonathan had hardly missed any days of school until he suffered a stroke in early November, she said.
“He’s really going to be missed, that’s for sure,” Goodman said.
In April 2008, the same day Jonathan was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a rare malignant brain tumor, the boy underwent surgery and had all but a tiny bit of the tumor removed. Four days later, he was back home enjoying playtime with his sister, Rachel, then 3.
As an extra precaution, Jonathan also had chemotherapy and radiation treatments to kill the cancer that could not be surgically removed from the brain stem. As the handsome, blue-eyed boy went through his treatment and lost his brown hair, his father, Brian Mullis, shaved his own head to show solidarity.
For Mullis, who serves as Mayo Regional Hospital’s emergency medical services supervisor, the diagnosis was shocking, he said during an interview in 2008.
“I’ve been on the other side of having to deliver bad news to people many times through the years,” and then the table turned, he said. “I don’t really know how to describe [the diagnosis]; it was a shock, it was hard to process anything but the most essential details.”
What was most amazing, Mullis and his wife, Liz, said in the 2008 interview, was that Jonathan was always upbeat about the entire experience. He would rise at 6 a.m. for the trip to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor where he received the treatment, and he never complained, Mullis said.
To Jonathan, the treatments “weren’t that tough.”
“We’ve been very positive and he’s been positive; he inspires us,” Liz Mullis said in the earlier interview.
Just as friends from far and wide reached out and held fundraising activities to help with the family’s expenses, Jonathan also reached out to others. Despite his own illness, Jonathan and his mother were among those working a yard sale last summer in Dover-Foxcroft to benefit a Sebec youngster who had a brain tumor.
“He was just a well-liked and loved boy,” Soileau said. “We’re all going to miss him.”
Because Jonathan loved books, his family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Thompson Free Library, 186 E. Main St., Dover-Foxcroft 04426.
Visiting hours will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6, at Lary Funeral Home in Dover-Foxcroft.