“I might fail, two weeks ’til graduation. How on earth am I going to this?” Matt was weeks away from his college graduation when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called clear cell sarcoma. For a couple of months, Matt experienced a painful lump on his heel that slowly grew over time. It became so painful, he decided to go to a podiatrist to have it checked. The podiatrist referred him to Dr. DiCaprio, at which point, he was diagnosed with a malignancy.
Matt was in the midst of preparing for a show for the upcoming weekend, he had finals coming up and assignments to complete. Matt’s mind was more on finishing these next couple of weeks of school, to finally graduate after 4 years of hard work than on his cancer diagnosis. “It didn’t strike me as it would strike other people. Mom broke down to tears instantly. I didn’t break down. Stuff like this doesn’t hit me because in that situation, the doctor I’m sitting with has a plan and he knows how to help.”
Matt took things one step at a time— appointment after appointment, surgery after surgery. He advises other patients to also do the same
to keep everything manageable.
The magnitude of pain he felt after the surgery was unexpected. The day before his surgery, Matt was setting up for a show at his high school, scheduled for that weekend. He was thinking, “how bad could it be?” Later he recalls, “It was THAT bad, it was awful.” He was on pain killers, yet still in tremendous pain. However, not doing the show wasn’t an option— “you move heaven and earth to put on a show.”
Following the show, he sprung into another project— he spent 10 hours editing a show, that normally would take him 1/4 the time. Matt kept himself busy, playing with his band, rehearsing, putting on shows and spending time with his family and friends.
After a long two weeks, Matt successfully graduated from college in a wheelchair. Now, four years out from his diagnosis, Matt is doing well. He’s recently been able to exercise without pain after years of discomfort.
Sarcoma Strong was happy to have Matt and his band play at one of the initial 5K runs in Saratoga. Come join us to support warriors, like Matt, to raise funds for sarcoma research this August.
Interview by Zohal Jelani