Fayetteville teen gives brother bone marrow to save his life

Cumberland County News

When his brother was diagnosed with cancer, a Fayetteville teenager helped save his life.

The Fonteneaux family says their faith, their community, and their close family bond, gave them the strength to fight together.  

Edward Fonteneux never backs down from a fight- not in the boxing ring, not in the military.  

Last year, after he retired as a Green Beret,  he and his wife Tasha, who also retired from the Army, decided to realize their dream of opening their own boxing gym.  

At the time, their family was about to face the biggest fight of their lives. 

“It’s something that you can never be prepared for,” said Tasha Fonteneux. 

Doctors diagnosed their son Tre, then 12,  with leukemia.

“We’ve been through some battles with him with his health,” explained Edward Fonteneux .  

When Tre was young, the family learned he has a chromosomal disorder that leads to delayed development, but cancer is a different battle.

“I cried, prayed, cried and prayed,” recalled Edward Fonteneux .  

“We talked about it,” said Tasha. “Explained to the kids what was going on, that Tre was very sick.”

 The diagnosis wasn’t just tough on Tre, but on his 3 brothers and sisters – especially older brother Tashawn who is very close to Tre.  

Doctors told the family their only hope was a bone marrow transplant.

After testing the family, doctors determined Tashawn was a perfect match.

“We always said it was ultimately his choice because it was his body. Despite surgery and a potentially painful recovery, for 16-year-old Tashawn, the choice was clear. 

“It’s my brother. Why wouldn’t I?” he asked.

“You can’t put into words how to describe the feeling knowing Tashawn was giving his brother a second chance,” said Tasha Fonteneux.

This weeks marks a year since Tre’s diagnosis, and despite dealing with hospital stays and treatment, the Fonteneaux family opened that boxing gym.

“We’re not going to let cancer dictate what we do in our lives,” said Tasha. 

They teach community kids to face their challenges head-on, and show how strong family can be,  even against the toughest opponent.

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