Don’t Give Up on Testicular Cancer

Life, Faith and Surviving Testicular Cancer - Part 2

February 27, 2023 The Max Mallory Foundation - Joyce Lofstrom host Season 3 Episode 3
Life, Faith and Surviving Testicular Cancer - Part 2
Don’t Give Up on Testicular Cancer
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Don’t Give Up on Testicular Cancer
Life, Faith and Surviving Testicular Cancer - Part 2
Feb 27, 2023 Season 3 Episode 3
The Max Mallory Foundation - Joyce Lofstrom host

Join Matt Ode in part 2 of Life, Faith and Surviving Testicular Cancer, where he shares more about the path to healing from his testicular cancer treatment. In this segment, Matt talks about treatment, the power of his family's support and prayer, and his strengthened connection with his girlfriend Lauren, who Matt married in the summer of 2022.

At age 24, Matt had to learn to walk again and rebuild his physical strength. He talks candidly about his faith and its pivotal and ongoing role in his life then and now.

Connect with Matt Ode on his Facebook community - Cancer Patient/Survivor Network: Taking Back Your Life From Cancer.

Listen to this podcast from the Max Mallory Foundation, and other Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer episodes. 

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Linkedin.

If you can please support our nonprofit through Patreon.

Show Notes Transcript

Join Matt Ode in part 2 of Life, Faith and Surviving Testicular Cancer, where he shares more about the path to healing from his testicular cancer treatment. In this segment, Matt talks about treatment, the power of his family's support and prayer, and his strengthened connection with his girlfriend Lauren, who Matt married in the summer of 2022.

At age 24, Matt had to learn to walk again and rebuild his physical strength. He talks candidly about his faith and its pivotal and ongoing role in his life then and now.

Connect with Matt Ode on his Facebook community - Cancer Patient/Survivor Network: Taking Back Your Life From Cancer.

Listen to this podcast from the Max Mallory Foundation, and other Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer episodes. 

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Linkedin.

If you can please support our nonprofit through Patreon.

Life, Faith and Surviving Testicular Cancer, with Matt Ode, season 3, episode 3 – this is part two of a two-part broadcast and telecast on YouTube

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer, a podcast where testicular cancer survivors, caregivers, and others who have navigated the cancer journey share their stories. The podcast comes to you from the Max Mallory Foundation. A non-profit family foundation focused on educating about testicular cancer in honor and in memory of Max Mallory, who died in 2016 at the young age of 22 from testicular cancer. Had he survived, Max wanted to help young adults with cancer. This podcast helps meet that goal. Here now is your host, Joyce Lofstrom, Max's mom, and a young adult cancer survivor.

JOYCE: Hi, this is Joyce, and I'm back with Matt Ode, who's our guest on Don't Give Up on Testicular Cancer. And this is part two of our conversation. As you might remember from our previous discussion, we were talking with Matt about all the health challenges that he went through. And so I know, Matt, we had just finished talking about your coma, and how you came out of that after two weeks, maybe you want to pick up there and just go ahead, however you want.


MATT: Absolutely. So if it's okay with you, me being faith-based, I do have like a really powerful story of my faith. I think I'd already stated I don't push faith in anybody, but I do have a powerful story if it's okay with you to just share.


JOYCE: Yes, that’s part of who you are.


MATT: Awesome. So, my mom, she, she's a Christian and has really instilled a lot of faith into me. But what had happened was when I was in my two-week coma, you had Lauren, my wife and my mom and my dad who pretty much really didn't leave the room, unless they had to absolutely sleep, or Lauren had to go to work, things like that. And my mom, what she did was, she set up three prayer services while I was in a coma. And basically what that entailed was a lot of friends and family would go to our local church and they would just pray for me. And what I was told was there were hundreds and hundreds of people that would attend these services. And there were even more, like thousands of people that they had around the world, just like at different churches, different areas, praying for me.


No joke, what Lauren would do is, every day she'd come up, she would come over to me and she would hold my hand and pray, mostly for healing, for me to wake up, and things like that. In the middle of the last prayer service, while everyone was praying at the church, Lauren had come over. She was holding my hand praying, [along with]  thousands of people around the world. That was the moment that I woke up from my coma.


She remembered, from what I was told, she felt my hands start to move. So she ran over to the nurses, she informed them, not even thinking I was awake yet, because, no one had any idea when I was waking up. So they [the nurses] ran, grabbed the surgeon. And they finally diagnosed that I was coming out of my coma. And for me, it’s just such a powerful story, because I felt like this was God's way of saying that this isn't the end of your journey. This is a brand-new chapter I have for you from something that is so dark and so difficult. And I think, for a lot of us, if we go through rock-bottom situations, in order to see the new light, or in order to see the next path in our lives, we sometimes have to go through the most challenging moments in our lives. And, for me, I felt that was God's way of completely transforming my life and start putting me towards the right direction.


JOYCE: Right. That's a wonderful story. And, just all that power of prayer that you had all those two weeks. I mean, it made a difference. It's good. I appreciate that you would share that with us, too. Thank you.


MATT: Yeah. And of course I don't discredit any medical staff or anybody, I would never do that. They were absolutely incredible, too. But I will say, like you said, there's certain things in life where you can't explain and timing. And, I've seen too many other stories and I've connected with too many other survivors and people who've gone through traumatic experiences to know that, there's external sources out there. That's just me. So I believe that.


JOYCE: Well, no, I had that experience too. I mean, science is, something we have to pay attention to, but they work hand in hand, so I understand what you're saying. So, now you're out of the coma. Where do we go next with this?


MATT: Yeah. You would think, okay, man, awesome. Now you're in the right direction. There are a lot more ups and downs to go still, but, unfortunately, about one week out of my coma, I had a catheter in my chest and I had a catheter in my neck to relieve--to help with any type of kidney or liver damage. They thought I was potentially going to be on dialysis for the rest of my life. They did start to see some improvements, which was kind of a miracle at such a quick time. So what they did was they said, OK, we're going to remove one of the catheters out of your neck. And as they went to do so, I had an arrhythmic heartbeat. I ended up falling into cardiac arrest. So they had to do close to seven to eight minutes of CPR on me, bringing me back to life.


And I ended up falling into another one-week coma and that right there was kind of like the icing on the cake. I remember waking up and I almost felt like I was paralyzed at that point, because I had to relearn to completely relive my entire life again. From laying in that ICU bed to taking my first steps, it took over two weeks with multiple nurses helping me. It was a lot of perseverance, a lot of difficult moments. But eventually, after 40 plus days in the ICU, over 53 days in the hospital, I was finally able to persevere. I was finally able to overcome a lot of those obstacles. And a really powerful story, which I don't remember if I did in part one or said this in part one or not: Lauren and I, my wife, we met on March 17th of 2016. Very special day for us. it's St. Patrick's Day, but it's more than that to us. And for me, I was released from that hospital. after over 53 days on March 17th of 2017, exactly one year from when we met, just another miracle of her being in my life. So, that was a very, very special day for us. It's kind of like a really important anniversary day for so many reasons. But, even coming out of that hospital, it was a massive long road and hard recovery ahead of me. I was actually dwindled down from close to 200 pounds from all the swelling and everything that had occurred after my surgery to 110 pounds in just a matter of two months.


JOYCE: Oh, man.


MATT: Yeah, so I guess, what was the most challenging part was, there's so many things going on. First, I had to deal with the mental struggles of it of eight months ago, I was this healthy, young personal trainer, with such a, I felt like, so much life ahead of me. And now, just eight months later, I'm this dwindled shell type of version of myself that when I look in the mirror, it's very discouraging. I had to work through the limiting beliefs of, am I worthy enough to heal? Am I worthy enough to get back to where I used to be? I think that was my first challenge, just working through a lot of those limiting beliefs and a lot of the mental struggles of anxiety and depression and all of that. And after that, once I was able to kind of work through those, I could then start taking actionable steps towards healing myself.


And how I started healing myself was really about as basic as you could get. I'll give you an example. I had two different lawn chairs. And what I was doing, this is when I was learning to walk again, I put one chair at one end of my driveway and one chair at the other end of my driveway. And what I would do is I'd have a cane, I'd get all my strength up, and I'd walk about, 10 meters to get to that chair that sit down, contemplate life for a little bit, try to sit back up and get back. And guess what happened, though? The next day I pushed that chair a little bit further. And then I just pushed it a little bit further and a little bit further. And next thing you knew, that chair was going out into the sidewalk. That chair was going further and further. And one day I was with my dad and I said, hey dad, don't even bring the chair. Don't even bring it anymore. And that was like a vital turning point in my life, because I realized if I can complete this journey without always needing assistance, without always needing help, and I can do this on my own. What else can I accomplish in life? And that allowed me to really start to rebuild my strength, start eating calories to pick up, [getting] the weight back, start lifting some weights, gain my strength back. And next thing you knew, within five, six months, I was really on that road to God, but there's a lot of challenges up here that I had to endure first.


JOYCE: So yeah, those mental hurdles happen with what you've been through. So you said it took about five months to get walking and starting to lift weights and exercise. How did you get through the hurdle? Did you have a counselor or did you--what advice on that can you share?


MATT: Yeah, it's a great question. So I have three key things that, in my opinion, really  helped me. Number one is definitely the support system and the people in my life. So finding people, I think in anything in life, when you're trying to go to a next level, or you're trying to break through any barriers in your life, you need to surround yourself with people who are going to uplift you, bring you positive energy, and also help you get to that destination. I always say that you are the average of the five people that you are around the most. And for me, I was thankful to have an incredible support system in my friends, my family, and to help push me forward on those really challenging and difficult days.


There are days where you just don't feel like you can do it on your own, so you need to rely on them. Number two, of course, we'd already talked about this, but is my faith. I truly believe that you can do it. when you start any really challenging journey and it's always going to be a very lonely journey at times--where you may feel like people can't relate to you or they feel, you feel, like you're just kind of on your own in this beginning stage of it. Well, I promise you, if you have that faith, it will help you through those really challenging times. And number three was learning that the greatest investment you can ever make is in yourself. And for me, having a health background and already investing myself in the knowledge, because I always say this is your body, it can dwindle. And you can have challenging moments where you have these physical struggles, but I promise you, the knowledge that you gain won't ever go away. And especially if you take the time to learn certain things that I think are very important. I think learning, proper nutrition, and just, how to properly take care of your body, you don't have to go crazy or anything. But for me, that helped so much.


When it came to the recovery, I knew what I needed to do, because I had already had knowledge about how to build strength, how to eat properly, how to get the right amount of sleep and work through mental hurdles and things like that. So those are the three biggest things--my support system, my faith in the knowledge that I was able to endure along the way. Those really helped me. For perspective, it actually took me close to two years to fully heal myself. It took me about three to four months to really start get that ball rolling and about two years to completely heal my mind and my body.


JOYCE: I've read articles about this and talked to some people, but you get past that and you're on your own now. Do you have any thoughts on that? Because I know how some people have felt, and you already had a good personal support system--but did the lack of all the doctors, is that a struggle or how was that?


MATT: That's a very good question. It's actually a great question. And it was 100%. I will actually share a short story. So soon as I got out of that hospital, for the first week and a half, two weeks, I really went into a victim mindset, I went into why me and it's very easy. It's very, very easy. And I did this to fall off the wagon when you don't have constant nurses, constant doctors always checking up on you. When you're in the hospital, you always get in your vitals. I get blood work every single day. I'd have either a surgeon or a nurse coming in for my physical therapy. I get home and all of a sudden, it's like, okay, you get a nurse once a week, you get a physical therapist that comes once a week and that's about it. The rest is on your own and you have to deal with that


And for the first two weeks, I was just like, I was so tired. I had a lack of energy. I had a lack of motivation. And next thing you knew, two weeks later, I'm in the hospital with my standing heart rate of 150 beats a minute. My blood pressure is through the roof. My temperature is over 103 degrees. And I had to stay in the hospital for close to a week because they had to get all my vitals back down, because I wasn't taking care of my body. I was just letting it go down and dwindle. When I came back, me and Lauren had a really tough discussion, but a discussion I needed to hear. It went along the lines of, listen, Matt, this isn't just trying to transform your body or trying to get yourself back to where you are. No, this is literally life or death. If you aren't going to put in the work and you're not going to keep the promises that you make to yourself when you say you're going to do something, you may not be here next month. That's the hard truth.


So for me, I realized that it was life or death. And it didn't just switch automatically. And all of a sudden, I was this magical person. But it was daily wins, just one or two wins a day, that compounded weekly and monthly, into bigger victories. And the next thing, a year comes by, and all those small daily compound wins is what allowed me to really heal myself. And I think that's what I would tell anybody in a health journey or any type of journey, you're in in healing is focus on today. If you constantly only worry about the future, you're going to create a lot of anxiety. If you're constantly worrying about the past, then you're just going to get depressed. But what you should do, you should learn from the past, stay the majority in the present and use those lessons to plan for your future.


JOYCE: I agree with you. I get that day-by-day mentality that's sometimes hard to maintain. At least it has been for me at times, you know. Oh, what's gonna happen, down the road? And you just have to go with what's happening right now. So how did you--it took you two years to get back to yourself. So where are we, 2019, 2020 now?


MATT: 2019, yeah. It was like beginning of 2019, I would say.


JOYCE: So what happened in 2019?


MATT: Yeah, absolutely. So just a little bit before that, I kind of had this what's next in life moment. When a lot of people go through challenging stuff, and they come on the other side, they realize that, whoa, I've been given a second chance here. And I feel like there's a greater purpose for me. I feel like there's something bigger out there, and I just don't maybe know what it is. And for me, I was definitely afraid to share my story. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I had this internal, like, energy of like, God just saying that, just get yourself out there. That's all I ask right now. Just get yourself out there and I will guide you the rest of the way.


And what I ended up doing was, I just started watching like motivational YouTube videos. And all of a sudden, I came across this guy named Ed, he's a successful entrepreneur, but he's more than that. He's a very motivational guy as well. And his tagline for the podcast he was doing, was just broke to 400 million. It caught my attention. I was like, okay, like, oh, the heck did this dude go from broke to 400 million? Well, the coolest part was when I watched it, it was like an hour long and it had nothing to do with the money, had everything to do with the struggles, the pain, and everything he had to endure to get to be the best possible version of himself. And that right there was like, whoa, like that's exactly what I want to do. And I said, okay, how can I get into his community? Just because he was somebody that I was looking up to. And the craziest part was he had just started a business mastermind, like no joke, like two months after I seen this video. I joined the group. I just took the risk. I joined the group. I said, what do I have to lose? And I started connecting with incredible people. This is the key. If you want to do something, Yeah, you actually start connecting with incredible people. And what happened was in the beginning, everyone was just like trying to share their story, trying to get to know each other. And when I started sharing my story, everyone was just like, are you a motivational speaker? Are you this? And I was definitely afraid to share it.


So, I mean, I probably wasn't any good at the time, but it was just probably just because I had gone through so much. They're just like, well, what do you do? And I'm like, I don't know what I do. And they said, well, you need to start sharing your story, where you need to start coaching or helping other people in these similar situations. And I said, okay, so let's just take it one step at a time. So I started to do some public speaking. I started to get myself out there. Next thing you knew, no, I'm like, okay, how can I monetize this into more of a coaching? I started coaching other cancer survivors, helping them through their health, helping them through their mindset. Now, I built two incredible Facebook groups. One is a cancer group with just cancer patients, caregivers, and survivors. In a matter of about two years, we've grown it to over 6,000 members. In about a matter of three weeks, which I just started. This is all about health and wellness for other individuals who've gone through challenging moments. We're already up to over 300 members in that group. And it's just like, you gotta put yourself out there, but you also need to surround yourself with two different types of people. Somebody who's already done what you're trying to accomplish, and you can say how, what were the steps they took? Too many people look at their idol and they try to see their chapter 20 and compare it to their chapter one. And I say, no, look at their chapter one. And what did they do to get out of the rut? What did they do in the beginning to get themselves going?


And then you can start to learn from that and start using it in your life. And number two is finding yourself with people in a group setting like I did that have a similar mission or have a similar mindset that are going to uplift you and want to help you to get to your destination. Because a lot of times, unfortunately, when you do start to do something bigger with your life, friends and family aren't always going to support you. Sometimes, even though they love you the most, they don't understand what you're trying to do. They don't understand your path. Some friends, most of mine are crazy supportive, but you have those one or two people that just seem to want to drag you down because it just seems like they can't see the success in their life. So they want to kind of bring you down with them as if a wall--if he, I knew him from high school, how could he possibly be doing something bigger than what I was able to do, in my life and it’s very few, but it can hurt when you notice some of these people in your life. So what I would say is you have to pay attention to the people that you want to be a part of your journey and who you don't.


JOYCE: you make a lot of good points and one that I'll ask you about or talk about is the group you found on YouTube that broke to, what was it, however many million.


MATT: Yeah, and the business group was called Arite, so that was the business group, but it was a video that I found, yeah.


JOYCE: Yeah, and I think for people who are entrepreneurs, and I'm thinking, I have a PR business, okay, that's a good point because to build it, I keep thinking, oh, I need more clients. But really, you got to be around other people who need more clients. And, whatever your business is, and get ideas. I mean, that's so basic that you don't think that way. You're being a lot of people about how to move ahead, whatever your next step is. I think that's wonderful you found that.


MATT: I think networking is so important. a lot of the times when people are like, oh, this person had a lucky break. No, they didn't have a lucky break. What they did was they were able to put themselves out there in uncomfortable positions and it allowed them to have opportunities that most people wouldn't because they're too afraid to put themselves out there.


JOYCE: Well, yeah, you're absolutely right. And you do have to take that risk. And sometimes we have that first step—it’s hard, but then people's reaction, like what you experienced, they gave you had a future. I mean, not that you didn't have a future, but they gave you a path on what to do. The other thing I like is that YouTube/Facebook group. And that's how I met you. It was through that. And talk a little bit more about them. I mean, I see the messages, and people really do connect and show what's going on, and other people support them and, I haven't seen your second one, so I'm going to have to look for that and the one on health. Yeah, so anywhere you want, you can tell us about those groups. They're really valuable.


MATT: I appreciate that. Yeah, my Facebook groups, I'll tell you right now, the very first one took me about four months of courage to be able to do it. So many limiting beliefs about it. So many limitations that I was putting into my life. What if people don't like my message? Or what if it just flops and people start judging me? And what if this just isn't the right path? I'm gonna put all this time and energy into it. And it just isn't. And I kept having these thoughts over and over and over. But then I also kept having this thought of, just do it. Just take what's called imperfect action, Matt, meaning it's okay to take action. And yes, you're going to fall flat on your face a couple of times and fail along the way. So for me, it took about three to four months of courage, between Lauren, my dad, and some other people to just say, just do it. I finally had the courage and I got it done.


And I'm telling you, yeah, it's tough in the beginning. It's a lot of putting in a lot of work, but I promise you, the reward that you get of seeing some lives that you're able to change, you can't beat it. For me, I went into this group not looking for coaching clients and money and all these things. I went into this group to help change lives. I went into this group to just give everything I could for free to help people. I think that is where you will make the biggest change in somebody's life. If you're only doing it because you want to get a coaching client or you want to try to get something out of someone else and you aren't doing it for pure love, pure desire to make an impact in someone's life, you were never going to be able to fully be able to express yourself for who you truly are and make that true impact in someone's life.


So that was the whole point of my Facebook groups and it is still today and it always will be. I always just give everything I can for free to help people to be a community and to be a family and really that's what these groups are about, is being a family so that we can feel like you know we're not alone in these circumstances because sometimes it can be really lonely in the cancer journey because we feel like you know unless someone's actually gone through cancer it's really hard to relate with what we're feeling what we're going through. And then on the caregiver side, it's the same thing. If we're a patient, it's hard for us to know how the caregiver truly feels unless somebody is a caregiver as well. So that's why I wanted all spectrums in the group so that we could really just be a plethora of knowledge, but also support and love.


JOYCE: Yeah, it's good. And you're right. You have to see all sides of the cancer journey. It's the patient, but it's the caregiver as well. And yeah, that's great. So what would you tell young men who find a limp, or might think they have testicular cancer? What kind of advice do you have for them?


MATT: Yep. What I would say, number one, so this is the weird part is I didn't have any symptoms in my testicle, which is super abnormal. Most men, if you have a symptom down in your testicle area and it lasts more than a week or two, please just go get yourself checked out. It doesn't mean you have testicular cancer or anything like that, but it's very important to go get yourself checked out. For me, I had massive back pain. Really, I would say for men and women, get a physical every year. make sure that you get some type of blood work, too. I think getting some type of blood work, just like a lab of checking your cholesterol level, your glucose level, which is your blood sugar, and things like that, just getting a biometric screening is super important. Like I was saying, if there's an abnormality in your body for more than a week or two, I know it can be embarrassing or I know it can be really stressful and it can be very scary, but it's better to go get that checked out sooner than later. If I would have gotten my back checked out when I felt like something was just completely off and I had a really good hunch it had nothing to do with me working out all the time, I'd probably instead of being close to the highest stage of testicular cancer to more like a stage one or a stage two. That's all I would say.


Testicular cancer is most prevalent in 18 to 35-year-olds. If you're in that age range, just know, just pay attention. You can even do your own self-exam, you know? So just always be aware, always be conscious. but don't be worried all the time. Just be conscious of what's going on. That's all.


JOYCE: I think you mentioned the self-exam and so many of the men I've talked to didn't do that. I mean, I would say out of almost 50 people, maybe three have need to do that or had somebody guide them to do like a tailored thing. You need to do that. And, I think that's a big area of improvement. It was the doctors too with the pediatricians and any doctor just checking that. I mean, what was your experience with, I mean, if I can ask? Like with Max, I know nobody questioned that he only had one testicle. Nobody worried that it was like, oh, well, where's the other one? I mean, and I, I just felt in hindsight, I find that odd now.


MATT: Yeah. So are you saying like, did I do my own self-examination or are you like, did you have doctors growing up that checked you or did anybody? I did. Yeah. So I, I've had a lot of sports. I think if you're in sports, you, you every year, you generally, that's true. Yeah. get physical. But as you start getting out of high school, a lot of people stop playing sports. So guess what? You're kind of on your own and not a lot of guys out there. This is why I say it's so important in your young 20s. Go get yourself checked out--because we think we're invincible. We go to less doctor visits. Chances are you're not even, I know a lot of 20 year olds that haven't gone to a doctor's office in five, six, seven years, and it's like, listen, you don't have to go because you're sick. You could go just to get a physical or get some type of yearly blood work. I think it's so important to get a biometric screening every year. And that just gives you your basic levels. And it shows that you're either healthier, there's some ways you can improve, and then they'll just do a basic exam. It's not like they're going crazy or anything. It's super quick. It's not hard. And I think just once a year, it's not going to kill you. If anything, it's just going to be a very positive thing for your life.


JOYCE: The other thing that's common is you were in a city where you had a good medical clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and I think that can be a challenge for some people to know where to go to get the best treatment. So I think that's another thing just to be aware of it, make sure you go somewhere with people, people being clinicians have experience with what they're doing.


MATT: You just need to trust your physician. And, if you don't, then, do some research and find some places where you do find, that you connect. Cause I'm going to tell you right now, there's some doctors that I never was able to connect with. And I'm not afraid to switch over to a different doctor that I feel like I actually can open up to or I can express my thoughts and concerns to them, because they're listening. And some doctors, kind of just, you feel like they're just going through the motion or they, you can't connect to them on a certain level. So find somebody that you really feel you can trust there.


JOYCE: Yeah, I agree. I think it's true for everybody. You have to be able to connect and talk to that doctor and the doctor has to be able to listen to you. So what's next now on your agenda for you personally, professionally, anything you want to share?


MATT: Yeah. So, for me, my biggest thing is helping transform people's lives. So I've been doing that in a few different ways. So every year, I host what's called a Mustaches for Matt race. So I'll explain this really quick.


JOYCE: Yeah. Yeah.


MATT: So what it is, is ever since I started chemotherapy, when I first started, my friends, they noticed I was losing all my hair and everything really quickly. And for me, I had this like really like, dirty mustache that I was like, I'm keeping on because this is the last bit of hair I got left. All the guys and my friends, dads, everyone were like, we're going to grow mustaches with you for the rest of your chemotherapy. They did for three months.


When I finally finished chemotherapy, it was right around Thanksgiving. My dad was like,  most local cities host was called like a turkey chop. And my dad said, okay, what we're going to do is we're going to just get as many friends as many family as we can to this race. And they can go run the 5k or the 10k race and we are going to have shirts and we're going to call it mustache’s format. This is all to just support you after supporting you through your chemo and everything like that


Yeah, we had thought really, okay, maybe 20, 30 40, maybe 50 people would show up. We had close to over 400 people show up on Thanksgiving morning at like 7am. And we're in Ohio. So it's 30 degrees. And we gave them all t shirts. It was incredible. We have pictures and things like that. And every single year from then on, except for one  year in COVID because we couldn't do it. But every year we did this on Thanksgiving. And then last year, finally, I said, you know what? I'm ready to take this up to a new level. And I'm going to start my own 5k. I'm going to host my own 5k. and all proceeds are going to a cancer organization of my choosing. Last year, I had worked closely with TCF, which is Testicular Cancer Foundation, and they're an incredible group of guys. I mean, just absolutely amazing helping these young adults going through cancer, and all of our proceeds went there. We donated over $7,000 to this organization through this race. Absolutely incredible.


And this year we're hoping to do even more and we're going to donate to a different organization. I can't say yet, but you may know the person too, so I'll just put it out there. I haven't even reached out to them, but I try to donate every year to something different, because that's super meaningful and has impacted my life in some way or form. So, that is one way that I want to make a huge impact in the community and other people's lives. The other way is through what I'm doing now, speaking and coaching. I want to really help, and this isn't just people, cancer survivors. This is individuals who've gone through challenging moments in their life, and I'm helping them rebuild their mindset and rebuild their health through nutrition and proper workouts so that they can ultimately become that strong, confident version of themselves and really figure out maybe what's next for their life. Going through the exact same struggle I went through, not cancer-wise, necessarily, but like going through saying, hey, how do I rebuild my life? And then what is that next purpose? What is that next path in life? And that's what I really feel is passionate for me, because it was such a big part of my life. So those are the ways I'm giving back to the community. It's been incredible. And I'm just seeing where God's taken me. And I'm trying to enjoy the journey. It can be a lot of ups and downs and stuff like that. But I have to realize every day is a blessing and just try to help others.


JOYCE: You're right, every day is a blessing. I think we forget that sometimes, I know I do. But I think you also, you have a strong ability, a gift, Matt, to be able to share, not just share your story, but like you said, help other people who have gone through a tough cancer journey or any kind of life journey and they're trying to figure out what to do next. And not everybody can do that, but I mean, you can, and I think that's wonderful because people need that, you know. It's just a wonderful gift that you're taking it the next step, that you're really doing it, if you know what I mean. Not everybody will do that. I really appreciate that.


MATT: Thank you so much. And I think I want everyone to know that you have something special in your life as well, your own uniqueness, and how I say you can find your own uniqueness is in a couple of different ways. Just really quickly is either number one, what I did was going through something challenging and overcoming it, and then realizing that there's other people struggling in a similar situation as you and you can use that uniqueness of your own journey to inspire and help others. Or it can be something that you've just been really passionate about in your life, something that is when you do the research or you look this up or it's part of your life, it's something that excites you and it's something that you find that comes naturally, relatively easy to you. but doesn't for others, and they also could benefit from you helping them.


Those are the two ways that you can really use your uniqueness to transform and help other people's lives. It's not like you just know it right away. You have to do some research. You have to really put yourself out there in order to be able to figure that out. I promise you, as you do so, you will start to understand and start to realize the gifts God has given you.


JOYCE: And you're right, we each have our own gifts and our own uniqueness. So thank you for stating that. That's very important. So I want to, before we end, I want you to share again your two Facebook pages and names and how to find them.


MATT: Yeah, absolutely. The first one is cancer patient/survivor taking back your life from cancer. I'll send you the link too. [ 


That is my cancer group with over 6,000 members. with all patients, caregivers, and survivors. And the second group is Survivor HQ  []. Survivor HQ is just a brand name that I decided to go with. And like I said, it's all about transforming your life as a survivor and becoming the best version of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, to help you figure out where your next path and purpose is in life.


JOYCE: Perfect. My last question. So what song, when you hear it, do you just have to sing along to it?


MATT: Oh, man. Gosh, that's a great question. You put me on the spot here. Oh, boy. I have a lot of really good songs, but I don't know what song I have to sing along to.


JOYCE: I'll say mine and give you time to think, because I'm a big Beatles fan. You know, any Beatles song I'm singing along to.


MATT: So that's great. I don't know why, like. “We Are The champions.” Is that Queen who sings that? Yeah, I don't know what it is, but it just came to my head. That's the first thing that came to my head. If it comes out, I'm singing it. So it's like everyone's heard that song before, but it is. Beatles are great, too. I grew up with my parents, absolutely,  My mom loved the Beatles. So that great, great, band.


JOYCE: Yeah, they are forever. So anyway, I think this is good, Matt, and I appreciate all the time you took, and we'll get your story out there on our video podcast, and thank you, and I hope maybe in a year, come back and tell us what's happening.


MATT: Thank you, Joyce. I appreciate you having me.


JOYCE: It was wonderful, so thanks.


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