Matt’s Message to Supporters
It’s been difficult to find the words. There’s so much to say, and now, so many to thank.
So here it goes…
On Nov. 16th I found out I had cancer. That evening I had my first surgery ever.
2012 was a huge year for me. Adventures and challenges presented themselves; success and its rewards were reaped. Most people would be happy with a year like that, yet contentment eluded me. Something was still missing. Now I know what it was. What a way to end the year.
People often ask if I’m scared when I’m on a boat in the Bering Sea. I’m miserable out there, but not really scared. I love the job, the challenges, and the people. I fly home proud and better at what I do, but I’m beaten down physically and mentally. You need to have a little disregard for your health/sanity to do that job, or youth, which isn’t an option for me anymore.
I took a job offer in Afghanistan last year, hoping to have a life-changing experience.
I craved it.
Now I can see that I needed one. I was willing to roll dice in a war zone and sought the adrenalin that it promised. The adrenalin came and went, but the life change never did.
Nothing makes a person take stock in their life like facing one’s own mortality. My life change came in a way I never saw coming. Cancer has been a blessing for me in many ways. In the first week of my recovery, I had a couple of poopy-pants days about my situation, but knew that of all the tools to beat this, attitude is tantamount to going forward.
So anyway, I have a sweet scar now! The tumor and ~6 inches of gut and butt were removed. My plumbing was re-sectioned with “clean margins”, which is surgeon-speak for “no cancer in the parts that were sewn back together”. Ten lymph nodes in the general area were also removed. An inspection of the liver that has served me so well looked good.
After a quick penis reduction, I was stapled shut, and ferried off to my ~$10k/night hotel room.
Job well done.
I waited to tell my parents. I wanted to get the pathology report before I hit the alarm. It was right before Thanksgiving, and I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday.
I was diagnosed with Stage III B colorectal cancer…ass cancer.
In addition, three of the ten lymph nodes had cancer cells in them, which means the tumor started to travel. Not great news. Telling my parents was the hardest part. It’s gotten easier ever since.
The penis reduction didn’t take either.
Six months of chemo and radiation is the standard treatment. I start on Tuesday, the 22nd of January. The success rates are pretty good with this treatment on this type. Thought I was done saying this, but I also have youth on my side, (I know, crazy). Most people who do chemo are in their 70’s, so I have a huge advantage. I’m in my 40’s, and the 40’s are the new 30’s of cancer survival.
Healthy & Carefree
I’ve never been the sharpest pencil in the drawer but I’ve always been a colorful one. If you know me, you know that I have some unique skills and qualities, but occasionally, I can be a dumb ass. My youth was spent being a poor but happy adventurer. I’ve always been pretty healthy and carefree.
So, yes, I was one of “those people” you hear about — the “uninsured.” I’ve sadly been “that guy” too, but am trying to cut down. Whatever time we have here is priceless and it could be worse. But it’s not. Everything is going to be all right.
Dumb Ass Cancer
My family and friends have surrounded me with so much love and support that it’s like a rugby scrum of love and support. A bevy of friends have volunteered to be my little chemo buddies. Family has come through huge in helping me negotiate the treacherous waters of medical bills.
I am the luckiest man alive!
It’s weird to say, but cancer has taught me some valuable lessons. A lot more people want me around than I ever thought, and the other is that I value me, I love me, and I want me to squeeze a few more decades of fun out of me before me takes the dirt nap.
I know. Sounds like the cheesy punch line the coach inspires the team to victory with during halftime, but this cheese is for real.
This all started with some friends offering to help by planning a fundraiser (TBA in Feb.), which led to the idea of a website for donations. My cousin volunteered to spearhead the website, his wife came up with the name DumbAssCancer.org, and they bought the domain for me.
A Dumb Ass with Ass Cancer, and Cancer is dumb. Perfect!
Word spread on FaceBook, and in a matter of hours, an army of people were responding and sharing until it snowballed into a cascade of support and a tsunami of love. A surprising amount of donations rolled in from so many from all over.
I’m floored looking at the names and comments. So many people have called, texted, messaged, emailed, and yes, tweeted offering prayers, advice, well-wishes, and help that I’m overwhelmed responding to everyone.
Honored I am to forever be associated with this name. It is amazing how much cancer touches people. Almost everybody I talk to about it has had a friend or relative with it, and as a storyteller, I feel obligated to document my survival arc, the good and the bad, for better and worse, my journey through Cancerland. Maybe, in some way, I can use my craft to inspire, help, or at the very least entertain.