Cancer Research/Marathon Runner

A friend and Catch alum, Cris Graves, is running a marathon to raise money for cancer research in honor of a family member she lost to lung cancer. She could use a hand reaching her goal. I gave cause I can and it’s right. If you can lend a hand and feel it’s right, please do.

 

http://mskcc.convio.net/site/TR/FredsTeamEvents/Freds_Team;jsessionid=960325BE1723DBF82046A913C427E3A4.app271a?px=2821323&pg=personal&fr_id=2150

One degree of separation

My cousin’s friend is battling cancer and could use a hand. I helped cause it’s only fair that I pay it forward. So many strangers helped me. I’m down to help strangers for that reason. Please help if you can. Here’s the link to her blog:

http://vickyfightingbreastcancer.blogspot.com/2014/09/about-vicky-and-her-family-and-chance.html

Thank you. Stop with the money already…

PaidOff

Things have been great, and keep getting better. If you ever have the choice to tangle with cancer, choose to avoid it(sarcasm). It’s a costly endeavor. The most costly part of my ordeal was the surgery and subsequent stay at the hospital. I don’t recall the original cost, but I had a balance of just under $50k as of Thursday. Until now, I’ve been making monthly payments.

 

There was a special this week on past buttectomies. The hospital offered to have my balance cut in half if I could cover the balance. Since my penis reduction didn’t take, I think they offered to reduce my bill (sarcasm, people… I shouldn’t have to warn you). As of Friday, thanks to all of you that helped, that monkey is no longer on my back (not the large Johnson, but the large bill). On Thursday I passed off this check, and since I didn’t get a call from the bank, I can assume that it cleared. If my cancer bills were Al Qaeda, we just took out Bin Laden. Thanks to you all. So on this day in April, I declare an end to all hostilities with my cancer bills.

 

$24,935.28. The last time I wrote a check that big, it was to a Colombian drug lord (this is sarcasm also people). There is still a remaining balance of ~$5700 left over from this and other cancer/treatment related costs. I have been advised to hang onto it “in case” something related arises. Otherwise, my thought is to use this to help other cancer victims with similar financial difficulties. Direct to the source.

 

I’m so excited to have this behind me (pun intended) cause I never have to talk about cancer again… Ha. I wish! Have a great spring/summer. I will.

 

Big Love,

 

Matt
PaidOff

My 1st Cancer Vlog

Matt Fahey OPERATION T-Shirt

Since I work with video for a living, I figured I could do a quick and dirty cancer vlog.

Clean bill of health

Matt Stint

My blood work came back and my “tumor markers” are below normal, which means I’ve “responded well to treatment”.

Now I never have to talk about cancer again. It’ll be like I never had it… Yeah right! I’m thinking of telling people that my portacath scar is a gunshot wound. (see picture). Gizoogle that!

I survived an IED strike in Afghanistan, but do they call me “Matt the IED survivor”? NOOO!

I’m working on a comedy routine. My friend Bill Reidmann who roasted me at Ass Aid wants me to go do 3 minutes of stand up in Phoenix with him. All my good material is cancer related. I guess I just have to embrace the suck… haha.4L1A3800_1sm

Treatment comes to an end… pun intended. Is Cancer behind me?… pun intended. I hope so, but it’s a waiting game now. And I turned 45 and spent a couple days with my Family. Blah Blah Blog.

Seb's first photograph of his brother and uncle. Sedona, AZ

On my birthday last year, I was embedded with the 23rd Sappers, on my first mission, “outside the wire”. Insurgents were observed concealing an IED at our FOB’s intersection with Highway 1 in Kandahar Province, on the border with Helmand. The 2nd platoon found it two IED’s, disposed of them, and I got to document it all. One of my more unique birthdays.

Group shot with 2nd platoon, 3rd platoon, Ryan MacPherson, and myself, FOB Sarkari Karez, Afghanistan

Group shot with 2nd platoon, 3rd platoon, Ryan MacPherson, and myself, FOB Sarkari Karez, Afghanistan

This year’s birthday was just as unique, but way less dangerous. This year, I got to spend it with my family in Sedona, Arizona. Family is the most important thing. It was kind of billed as my 45th birthday gathering, but it was really more of a welcome out of cancer/treatment with my immediate family celebration. My last “treatment”, as they call it, happened last week. It (chemo) is technically still in me, working it’s chemical magic: killing cells with a high metabolism.

I think everybody is happy to have that part over, most especially me. I’m looking forward to getting creative again. Paid creative. The monkeys are hungry, and I’m looking forward to earning monkey kibble.

As far as cancer goes, it’s a wait and see game.

We kicked it at the Hilton and enjoyed the redrock of the Oak Creek Canyon area from the air-conditioned rooms of our hotel. Kind of. Got a few cool pics out of it too.

Seb's first photo. Nice exposure! His brother Landon at left, and yours truly on the right.

Seb’s first photo. Nice exposure! His brother Landon at left, and yours truly on the right.

4L1A0605 4L1A0600 4L1A0584 4L1A0574 4L1A0572 4L1A0553 4L1A0551 4L1A0544 4L1A0543 4L1A0542 4L1A0517

 

 

Radiation/Chemo

Me and Mike

Today was my first day of radiation. It didn’t hurt, but it’s a weird procedure. You get naked, lay down like you’re going to get a massage, but they line you up with three dots they tattooed onto my hip area, and target the area where the tumor was with X-rays, plus I’m hooked up to the chemo pump 24/7. This is gong to suck. I just feel like watching tv and waiting for this to be over. 6 weeks of this. I couldn’t answer a call, an email, look at hospital bills, not a thing today. Have to get out and stay busy.

My cousin came to town last weekend and wore me out. We hiked four days in a row, and skied for the first time this season (which was awesome). My friends Derrick Ray and his wife, Janelle were in Sedona, so we had dinner down there one night and up here in Flag the next night with Chuck and my brother Mike. Derrick gets a bad wrap from his stint on DC7, but he’s a good dude. And Janelle is even better!

Me and Mike

Me and Mike

Me and Mike circa '97

Mike and Me circa ’97

I have a friend named Mike Shuck who died of cancer a few years ago. I didn’t realize how bad his cancer was until he was dead. Never got to see him in person before he passed, although I did talk to him once by phone, and followed him on FB. Next thing I knew, he was gone. I went to his memorial. He had a lot of love and friends and family support. Somehow, I ended up with these buttons, these buttons with his face on them. Now, I find myself walking in his shoes. Someone made a bunch of pins for Ass Aid, and now I’m on this pin. It makes me think about my future. I don’t want to be that guy on the pin. The guy that’s no longer here. He had such promise. I don’t want to be that guy.

So here I am, doing whatever the doctors tell me. What choice do I have? If they told me to eat dehydrated tiger urine cause it cures cancer, I’d eat it everyday. I’ve got too many things to do. I can’t be the guy you all knew who’s only on a pin. This is going to suck. I can tell. But it has to be done.

Here’s a BuzzFeed article about my situation and not being alone in need of fundraising help online.

High Altitude Relief
High Altitude Relief

High Altitude Relief

Finding Chemo Update

Only time I met Captain Phil Harris of the F/V Cornelia Marie
Only time I met Captain Phil Harris of the F/V Cornelia Marie

Only time I met Captain Phil Harris of the F/V Cornelia Marie

Chemo Update

Sorry to procrastinate my update. Cancer has become a full time job. For every cancer diagnosis, 5 trees are felled for the paperwork it takes to bill and inform them of their treatment. Besides treatment, I’ve been occupied moving into my own place, communicating with as many as possible, trying to document the journey, and putting more irons in the fire for my post-treatment plans. Haven’t even had time to properly thank you all. A broad-swipe “thank you” just doesn’t cut it here, but THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!

Finding Chemo

When people say it’s good to see you, I always say, “It’s good to be seen.” Chemo hasn’t been so bad. Everyone at the cancer center loves me: patients and staff. I crack jokes and can’t help but flirt with the ladies. It’s a comfortable environment with a super friendly staff.

The bulk of my treatment starts on the 27th with chemo and radiation to my bungholio area for 6 weeks. This part will suck, but won’t kill me or make me infertile or impotent so says my Doc (whew!). Frankly, this is the part where I will likely need my friends and family the most. FYI, I probably won’t call and ask for company/help. I’m a knob like that… but moving on.

The worst part of treatment so far hasn’t been that bad: Talking about chemo and cancer non-stop gets a little taxing. That and being homebound for treatment suck. Otherwise, there’s lots of good happening, and I’m staying positive. This is the longest I’ve been home in 4 years, so I’m itching to work and adventure again.

The good parts outweigh the bad: This winter has been the least stressful I’ve had in years. People are extra nice and super concerned. Lots of love and prayers are sent my way, and on top of that: people feel obligated to laugh at my jokes! My lifelong desire to be a comic is sated. Haha! And the best part? Being reminded that I have the best friends and family in the world. Sorry to burst bubbles, but I’m winning that contest hands down.

Family: we’ve tightened. Worst feeling in the world has to be having a sick child. Mom and Dad are re-assured now. Dad bachelored it with me for a couple days. We sat around in our undies watching porn and talking about power tools. Just kidding. Mom and I have decided: no more politics. It’s always bad. My brother was there for me when this all went down (Side note: He got a colonoscopy since cancer is often a family affair [3 of 4 grandparents died from cancer]. Polyps were removed, and thankfully none were cancerous.). Some cousins spearheaded the fundraising and website and others are helping me access the medical bill string pullers to hopefully negotiate a reasonable rate on my pre-insured expenses. My retired aunt, a nun, has a special group of clergy praying for my recovery in France. How about that? And more…

Friends: Everyday I’m contacted by someone I haven’t seen in years. So many friends also spearheaded the Ass Aid fundraiser: a perfect storm of love, food, comedy, laughs, belly dancing, music, slideshow, t-shirts, buttons, auctions, support, and Dad’s James Brown imitation. Besides Ass Aid, friends did my taxes, gave me rides, brought me food, helped me move, and laughed at all my bad jokes. And more… I could and should literally go on and on about who has my back. I promise that many thank you cards are in our future.

Strangers: From around the globe, strangers send positive vibes, prayers, gifts, advice, and support.  A Minnesotan has donated her time, energy, and creativity to bring online awareness to my situation and auctioned off personal items, including a one-of-a-kind hat signed by Phil Harris that sold for $2k. A stranger bought it for double what the last bid was. A German I’ve never met donated $1000 to the website, dumbasscancer.org. And more… I’m literally paralyzed when I see who and how many have donated, known and unknown. The generosity of strangers re-affirms my belief that there is more Good in this world than Bad. In a way, cancer has been the best thing to happen to me (unless it kills me). It’s changed my outlook like nothing ever has.

Cancer survivors: a coterie who’ve reached out online with support, kudos, advice. It’s hard to believe how many. Heard a stat today: 1 in 3 people will have cancer in their lifetime, which means it touches everybody.

Lastly: Hate to do this publicly by choosing sides: Friends, family, and strangers alike are all over politically, but without the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), part of The Affordable Care Act, I would go bankrupt and spend the rest of my life paying off bills. Thank you, President Obama, all of you who believed in it, and all of you who brought it to fruition in time to offer me the opportunity to crawl my way out from under the costs and get me back on my feet after treatment.

Round Two of Chemo

February 11, 2012, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Slowly coming out of my chemo haze. It probably wasn’t so bad this time around, except I caught a cold which kept me confined to quarters for 2+ days.

I’ll probably head over to Fat Olives in a few hours to stuff my little cherub body full of fine Italian food.

One good side effect of chemo: I’m getting really good at Sudoku’s.