Cancer, COVID-19, Game On

The Surprise

I woke up with a big lump in my neck the Wednesday before Easter in 2018. My wife was on her way back from a business trip. That night I went to the hospital because it was getting worse. She met me at the hospital, I had emergency surgery that Friday because they didn’t know what it was. I got the call from the doctor that Tuesday. He wanted me to come in, I asked him for the news over the phone. Stage Two Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was in my neck and a node behind my heart. Close friends came over that night. I wanted a second opinion for the course of treatment, and my father who’s worked in the health care industry many years got me an appointment at City of Hope for a week later. They confirmed the diagnosis. We didn’t cancel the trip we had planned to DC. The doctor said we could take it. We went on the trip with the boys, thinking it might be our last vacation. We had a great time but my wife got upset with me when I kept stepping away from the family at times. She wanted me to be more present, didn’t know I was having my moments, passing by these monuments, looking at the three of them, feeling like a ghost.

The Journey

August 2018: With Family During Chemotherapy

We came home, I started treatment end of April, which went through Sept 2018. I started eight rounds of chemo. My wife wondered how I was going to handle it ‘cuz I hate needles. Thirty-seven pokes. I documented my journey on Facebook, calling the day we got the diagnosis Day Zero. Highs and lows. I wanted to show people that God had this under control. We were not going to be fearful. We were going to be fearless. I didn’t paint a pretty picture but a realistic one. I told people the days I felt like absolute junk. I wanted my boys, who were nine and seven at the time, to know that whatever happened to me, God had a plan and it really made an impact, I think. Their class, their school, their teachers, our Little League, my CrossFit gym, our church, my dad’s church, the whole community was behind me.

Fear

When you get cancer, it’s what everybody feels right now with COVID-19. Keep social distance. What everybody is concerned with right now is what a cancer patient deals with on a daily basis while they’re going through treatment. We’re told that if we have a common cold, a fever of 99+, we gotta go to the hospital. So I’ve lived this. My family has lived this. So what people are concerned about – welcome to the cancer world. At the same time, everybody’s cancer journey is personal. And you can’t tell a cancer patient how to act and react. But I chose to be proactive, use common sense. I never stopped working and working out. I stopped traveling because I didn’t want to get on a plane. But I still met with customers. I practiced good hygiene, washing my hands. I would still shake people’s hands when I was sick, though I would do a lot more fist-bumping. because I had a great God. I was not going to let the cancer dictate my situation. Was I scared? Yeah, but as a believer in Jesus how can I be so scared that I was gonna stay tucked away in my house? No matter what happened, God had it under control. I used the strength of the community to give me that guide. Text messaging, phone calls, video calls, what people are doing right now I did a lot. But I’d still go out in public, I’d still go to gyms and still work out, but I’d use common sense and listen to my body. I exercised, ate the right foods.

Making a Difference

We started a company called Move through Motivation with the people that actually came to my house the night I found out I had cancer. I’ve known these people for 15 years. We have a Youtube channel, a podcast about my mission and the story behind the story. The podcast shares people who’re going through struggles and what their life is looking like right now. Feel free to go on. I wanted to start a company that got people even just walking, exercising in an encouraging environment to show them how that would keep them healthy. And so Pray and Move is a small group we started in 2017 with some guys from our baseball group and friends from church, and we meet every Sunday morning at 5:15. We’re still meeting every Sunday. Because the parks are closed, we’re practicing safe social distance running on the streets in our neighborhood. This past week there were six people that came. I’m a military man, served in the US army, I deployed in 2003, was in a severe accident, landed in the hospital. I’ve been through many tragic experiences that have set me up for this and to encourage people in this current situation. But further than what’s going on with COVID-19, my goal is to help people with health. So if you’re sitting on your couch all day, I want to be the encouraging voice that says let’s get up and go for a twenty-minute walk. If you need an encouraging group, I can find people you can be accountable to and I will be that motivation, although I can’t be the driver. The drive has to come from you day in, day out. I want my company to inspire people. Before COVID-19 hit, we were about to start a Just Move campaign with our two neighboring cities to help families come out and move, provide fun activities. If I can change the mind of just one person to walk just twenty minutes everyday, to do something more than what they were doing months ago and start them on a track to health and wellness, normal and healthy people will be able to fight a pandemic like this. The cancer didn’t define me. It just motivated me to help others any way I can, whether they’re going through cancer or just struggling to move more.

What happened at the end of your treatment?

The chemo killed the cancer cells. I’m in remission. We get a five-year window. So far after a year and five months, I’m clear. I scan every six months.

What was the greatest lesson you learned?

Spread love and positivity in dark times. When you go through something trying, you have a different perspective on what life’s really about. Spread love.

 

A big thanks to Matt for this conversation, his strength, love, and service. He roves the church (when we gather) looking for ways to lighten the load for everyone. Be sure to catch the awesome Youtube he filmed the day he got his diagnosis, and plug into his podcast and adaptable daily regimens on his Facebook page.

Please address comments to the blog host.

 

56 thoughts on “Cancer, COVID-19, Game On

  1. Thanks to Matt for sharing his story. I do believe we learn and grow for each of our hardships — although we wish the lessons didn’t have to be so tough. That the more self-aware of us are able to pass their wisdom along to inspire others is the true gift in it all. Thanks, Matt and Diana.

  2. Kudos to Matt and his family for demonstrating such faith and courage to keep spreading love in place of fear. And thank you Diana for sharing stories like this to keep us inspired. I do miss your writing and hope you revive it again. Take good care my friend.

    • The news is FrAnTiC with its rising numbers of confirmed cases and deaths. How about some light and hope, eh? Appreciate the good word aimed at me: I, actually, just pounded out a write-up. You will see it in its time. Stay safe and happy, B. Hope your mother is okay. I send her my love by telepathy.

      • Thank you dear Diana. My mother is struggling with the isolation as many people are. I appreciate you thinking of her and look forward to reading your post. Cyber hugs and blessings…

  3. Thanks for writing about your journey with cancer. I appreciate your telling it as a way of encouraging us that we will get through this scary and uncertain time. Glad you are in remission.

  4. This is a very interesting post. When we find out that there is something out of the ordinary, we find that there are many paths that appear as we travel. I have toyed with the concept of what is better, being aware of a change, or meeting the challenges that are ahead. You are one of the bloggers that I cherish your contributions. NEXT TIME

    • “When we find out that there is something out of the ordinary, we find that there are many paths that appear”

      Mm. Else, we keep doing what we were doing, going where we were going. Thank you for the thoughtful feedback. We are just a speck in the universe. It is great to be appreciated. I hope these strange new times find you responding creatively. =)

      • You say ‘we are a speck in the universe’ In the reality is to see if those who depend on you consider you a speck. Great feedback. Keep up the great thoughts.

  5. Matt, your writing style is powerful and your message comes across loud and clear. Your article is encouraging and motivating and one can only imagine what you and your family went through. It’s good to read that you’re now in remission, as is my younger sister and she needs to read more of this. Thank you.

    • Matt and I appreciate your taking the time. He read your comment in the running around he does for his job. Heartfelt healing wishes for your sister. She might check out EFT, aka Tapping, a powerful way to rebalance the body and support strength and healing for all sorts of ailments and illnesses. Not a stand-alone in the hard cases, but often an effective support, if not a game changer. I caught a Youtube of an elderly man, one of the first to come down with COVID while touring the waters around Japan, in which he shared how he raised his oxygen level from 93 to 96 and beyond, climbing over the wall decisively to recovery after tapping for lung performance. At 90, he was going to be put on a respirator which he emphatically did not want. He mentioned the tapping in the context of his story, a nice surprise to hear. Nick Ortner is a trusted resource in the world of tapping, if you’d like to pass that on.

  6. Being all too familiar with his journey through family members, I appreciate his views on life and his faith in getting through this. Continued prayers for his recovery.

  7. I have done what you had to do for a large portion of my life. My immune system is compromised so I have to be careful. I think God for his protection. I would never compare myself to someone fighting cancer but I do understand a great deal what fighting for your life is about. I keep hand sanitizer and wipes everywhere. Didnโ€™t have to go out and buy any. Even offered some to others. May God bless all during this time.

  8. Inspirational read! Mattโ€™s attitude & drive is amazing. Thank you for sharing this touching & empowering story. God bless the whole family. ๐Ÿ’šโœŒ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  9. I really am so grateful for all the kind words of encouragement from everyone. Thank you for some people subscribing to the YouTube channel. Diana, thank you so much for taking the time to share my story. God is good all the time. My goal in good and bad times in life is to lean on God, always. Here is a virtual high five to all! Have a blessed day!

    • Amen. That’s what I believe too, lean on/lean into God at all times. He guides us through every situation in life whether it is good or bad. He is there with us supporting us all the way. Your story reminds me of mine. I am also a cancer survivor. Breast cancer, double mastectomy, 2012. May you continue to be blessed.

      • So glad to hear you have survived the battle and have a wonderful testimony. Have an awesome day!

  10. Thank you for sharing your story. There is a comforting passage that I appreciate so much. Isaiah 33:24, God promises that soon โ€œNo resident will say: โ€˜I am sick.โ€™โ€

  11. very heart warming experience! your story truly targeted a deep point in my heart, especially because my sister also suffers from cancer, so I was able to relate and understand many of the points you mentioned. Your journey was definitely not an easy one but I am more than happy that you have this source of light, energy, and faith to keep you motivated to explore what this life has yet to give. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and always remember that there is a light after every dark road.๐Ÿค

  12. very heart warming experience! your story truly targeted a deep point in my heart, especially because my sister also suffers from cancer, so I was able to relate and understand many of your points. Your journey was definitely not an easy one but I am glad that you have this source of light, energy, and faith to keep you motivated to see what this life has yet to offer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and always remember that after every dark road, there is a bright light waiting to shine on you and bring along its light and ease.๐Ÿค

    I am also planning on writing a book about my sisterโ€™s cancer journey and how I grew up with a sense of fear and hope towards her rocky experience, full of highs and lows, so stay tuned for that๐Ÿ˜…

    • Thank you for the encouragement! I pray for your sister and your familyโ€™s journey. Cancer is never easy but a difficult time in life and with a support of an awesome God, family, and friends, the journey Is not as bad. Prayers for your sister and have a phenomenal day!

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