My name is Matt and together with my wife Madison I am living with a cancer diagnosis which might not be curable.
I am only 30 years old and I have stage IV malignant melanoma.
And I am scared.
Yet I am optimistic too. I am scared I may not have many more tomorrows with my loved ones. I am optimistic there may be a cure for cancer one day through continued donor support of cancer research.
I have come to really understand how donors’ big-hearted and generous gifts are helping provide me with treatment options. Treatment options which did not exist this time last year. Donors’ commitment has funded melanoma clinical trials at CancerCare Manitoba; trials which may give me a new lease on life.
Five years ago my cancer started with a mole on my lower back which turned out to be the snowball which started my cancer journey. At diagnosis, the doctors determined the cancer had already entered my lymphatic system. Overnight, my cancer went from stage I to stage III.
Immunotherapy was planned however I developed acute liver toxicity and we had to stop treatment. I didn’t qualify for clinical trials at that point so I was told to stay out of the sun and hope it wouldn’t come back.
We carried on in the face of the unknown.
I run a landscaping business and by the time I was diagnosed I had 40 years’ worth of sun in eight years of working outside. Genetic tests confirmed with near certainty my cancer was caused by this sun exposure.
After my initial diagnosis we carried on and lived our lives as happily as we could, in three-month chunks between tests. Fast forward four years and terrible news, then a mere few months later, three more tumours were discovered.
The cancer couldn’t be cut out or I’d have lost my arm. Fortunately I didn’t have to face that terrible choice because it was determined surgery wouldn’t have increased my odds. For months I had to live my life with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Not sure what the next step might be.
Knowing this, life was like driving a vehicle without a steering wheel, just moving forward. I had absolutely no control.
Donor’s support has made a world of difference for me.
Shortly after my last relapse, new drugs became available because of a successful clinical trial run right here in Manitoba. The generosity of people from across the province I have never even met made this miracle possible.
By joining with other Champions of Discovery from Manitoba, your monthly donations will support continued clinical trials, like those that have given us new hope.
My treatment comes with significant challenges
Immunotherapy is very new and there are side effects which the doctors are just learning about. The drugs can be very toxic and some simply don’t work for me. I no longer have my thyroid and my pituitary is headed that way.
The side effects of this treatment could end my life. It’s a risk we are prepared to take. Your support will help the team at CancerCare Manitoba refine these treatment options. This will give us more time together, more tomorrows.
We don’t know love without cancer.
The support of donors like you makes it possible for us to continue our love story. We have been partners since the beginning of my journey, continuously celebrating life’s little victories. We celebrated a major milestone in August, our wedding. We wanted to do something meaningful; instead of gifts, we asked for donations to the Foundation. We are so grateful for each and every one of the generous gifts made in our honour.
We have leaned heavily on the psychosocial support programs and services which are available at CancerCare Manitoba thanks to the generosity of donors. We hope you will join us in making a donation today so these vital services will remain available.
We remain very hopeful but it’s tough to dream far ahead.
I struggle to look too far into the future as I don’t know if we will get there. Madison, on the other hand, dreams of our next adventure together; hoping my health allows us to fix up this old truck we bought so we can take it for Sunday ice cream next summer. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s big to us.
The gift of life is what you give us through your selfless gifts to the Foundation. There is no better feeling than celebrating life with someone you love so much.
We are and will remain, eternally grateful for your caring, compassion and generosity.
Matt & Madison