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Matt's Cancer Journey

Matt began treatment in Ohio in August 2011. However, on the day he was to report for his first round of chemotherapy, he was unable to walk. Pneumonia had caused Matt’s right lung to collapse and he was rushed to the ICU. The following day, he went into cardiac arrest due to fluid surrounding his heart and battled for his life in the days that followed.

During his hospital stay, Matt chose to undergo genetic testing to check for certain mutations that may have caused his cancer. On September 9, the test revealed that Matt tested positive for ALK, a mutant gene that drives Matt’s cancer. Identifying the genetic makeup of his tumor qualified him for an ALK inhibitor that had just been approved by the FDA called crizotinib, which he began three days later. Matt’s response to the medicine was immediate, and on September 21, he was able to walk out of the hospital without any assistance.

In Matt's own words: “Personalized medicine is the medicine of the future. My lung cancer may not be the same as another survivor’s, which means the best treatments may not be the same either. Cancer is becoming as unique as the person living with it.”

On November 10, 2011, Matt’s test results confirmed a complete response to treatment. However, Matt’s specific cancer became resistant to the drugs over time, which has led him to participate in various clinical trials over the last four years.

In April 2015, Matt was referred to Todd Bauer, MD associate director of drug development at Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, Tenn. who enrolled him on a phase 1 trial of an ALK inhibitor that is designed to block the signaling pathway that causes Matt’s cancer. To date, he has experienced great results on the trial.

Matt will continue to travel from Cleveland, Ohio, to Nashville for treatment every three weeks and enjoys exploring the city while he’s in town.

“I wouldn’t be here without the support of my best friend and my wife, Ally, and my mother, Mandie. They both have stood by me through every step of the journey. My mother was my biggest advocate by finding me the best doctors and the institutions, like Sarah Cannon, to treat my specific type of cancer.”