In May 2017, Matt woke up coughing in the middle of night. The next morning, he passed out when he tried to get out of bed. Matt went to the doctor, and three days later, he underwent a bone marrow biopsy that led to devastating news. Matt was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
“It makes your world just stop,” said Matt.
Matt began chemotherapy treatment at Methodist Hospital, and his doctors gave him a 20% chance of survival. Matt, and his wife, Denae, remained focused on keeping a positive attitude despite their fears and many unknowns.
“You really have a choice when you’re faced with a situation like this, and you know, you can focus on all the negative, all the scary things. But you have a choice to look for your blessings in the middle of the storm, and that’s what we did.” - Denae
Matt and Denae hoped the chemo would eradicate the cancer from his body, but after several relapses, Matt’s doctors decided it was time to look for a donor for a blood and marrow transplant.
“His [Matt’s] cancer would have taken his life, probably within months of time, if he wasn’t able to respond or get to the transplant.” - Paul Shaughnessy, MD, Medical Director, Sarah Cannon Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program at Methodist Hospital, San Antonio.
A very special donor made Matt’s life-saving transplant possible. Matt’s son, Garrett, was a 50% match and donated his stem cells to save his dad’s life. Matt had his blood and marrow transplant in February 2018.
“My son has always, even as a child, had dreams of being a hero, and that day, he was our hero.” - Denae
Matt has been in remission since his transplant. Thanks to his doctors, his family and his support system, he maintained a positive outlook and successfully completed all of his therapy.
If you would like to find out how you could be an anonymous donor for someone who needs a blood and marrow transplant, sign up to save a life through the Be The Match donor program.
Have cancer questions? Call askSARAH and speak to a nurse available 24/7.
Cancer TypeAcute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
Treatment LocationSarah Cannon Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program at Methodist Hospital, San Antonio
Cancer NavigationDr. Paul Shaughnessy and a multidisciplinary care team
“I have always said we hit the doctor lottery. I feel like it’s just such a blessing to be able to drive 30 minutes down the road and have the best care that I think you could probably get in the nation.”—Denae, Matt’s wife
“This whole process has taught us that life is for the living, and you’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so take hold of today and make the best of it, and just embrace life.”
—Denae, Matt’s wife
“I want people to see that you can make it through cancer. Cancer is not fun, but we can make it through it, and we can live a normal life once we get past all the treatment.”