“It’s not good…”
I normally write up my own detailed posts about each and every session, but in this case, I’m going to let Matt’s wife, Elizabeth, share their story. To clear up any initial questions, when Matt was diagnosed, he was 33 years old, and is a non smoker that had no symptoms. He and Elizabeth have a 4 year old daughter named Austyn, and now a 9 month old daughter named Rylan. Matt was diagnosed when Rylan was just 7 weeks old:
“On Friday November 4, 2016, our lives changed in a blink of an eye. At 10:30am my husband received the phone call that made us drop to our knees. The biopsies that the doctor collected from his lung came back positive for lung cancer…
On November 7, 2016, Matt had a full body PET scan to see if the cancer was anywhere else. And he also had a MRI brain to check there as well.
On Wednesday, November 9, we meet with the lung cancer clinic/oncology team to discuss the pet scan results as well as treatments plans.
Dr introduced himself and asked if we had seen Matt’s PET results or Brain MRI? No we haven't...he said I'll be honest, "it's not good."
He proceeded to bring up the images... I immediately started to tear up…
The scan lit up everywhere; he has cancer in his chest/lungs, neck,lymph nodes, liver, bones, spine and his brain. With this surgery isn't an option. Matt started out on a pill form of chemo that he took twice a day called Xalkori, and has spot radiation on his brain. Matt’s second PET scan was in February of this year to see how his chemo was working, and everyone was taken back. He had gone into remission from his neck down. What a huge relief! He had his second brain MRI to check if the radiation was working by shrinking his spots, to our relief, again, it was.
It wasn't but two weeks later Matt had a seizure episode that lasted about a 45-60min of Matt blacking out and not remembering anything while still physically up taking, walking etc. He had a moment of "passing-out" while I caught him. With this episode they did another MRI of the brain and found another two spots that they hadn't seen before. With this Matt opted to go under full brain radiation. Small side effects are short term memory loss, loss of hair, lost of taste, dry mouth, soreness of his head (like a strong sunburn) , and fatigued in which he experienced all of these.
On May 2 Matt had his 3rd PET Scan to see if he was still in remission and unfortunately his body has found a way around the chemo and started coming back. He was no longer in remission. Matt had a port placed in his chest for his next treatment plan: iv treatment of Keytruda. He receives this every 3 weeks. It a type of chemo/immunotherapy to try to attack everywhere else. Matt also had fluid that builds up between his chest wall and pushes his right lung over causing shortness of breath and chest pain. They placed in a plurex catheter that we can drain this fluid at home if needed instead of going to the ER to have it drained.
Matt will have another Brain MRI and full body PET scan in July.
Unfortunately, this diagnosis is not curable, but Matt will continue to fight, for he wants, and will, walk both his daughters down the aisle one day.
Matt and Elizabeth both continue to work full time jobs. Food still needs to be bought, bills still need to be paid, and life keeps going on, even when they wish it would slow, just a little. If you feel led to do so, please consider making a donation to their crowdfunding page or if you’d like to make a private donation of some sort (gift card, or even a card or letter), please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly facilitate the delivery.
This family amazes me. They are true fighters, and the love they have for each other was evident with every look, hand holding, and kiss. It was a quick, windy, perfectly imperfect session, and I felt honored to be able to capture these priceless moments for them. Please keep Matt, Elizabeth, Autsyn, and Rylan in your thoughts and prayers, and remember to not take one second of your life for granted.