An Invitation to Celebrate (Tomorrow): 20 Years Free of Brain Cancer!
His story is awe-inspiring...
A grim prognosis and horrific roller coaster experience twists and turns into a beautiful and unexpected story of victory that impacts thousands of lives.
You should read the whole thing, it's dramatic! But here's a summary:
Matthew Zachary is 21 years old in the early winter of 1995 with a dazzlingly bright future and dreams larger than life when symptoms of a neurological issue become too debilitating to ignore.
After many misdiagnoses by campus doctors from the flu to Multiple Sclerosis, an MRI reveals a golf ball-sized growth in the college senior's brain and an extremely risky yet successful 8-hour surgery ensues. Pathology confirms it's medulloblastoma.
His case is so rare due to his age - nearly all pediatric medulloblastomas occur in children under the age of 12 - that doctors have no scientific data with which to form a post-surgical treatment plan. Knowing he may have as little as 6 months to live, Matthew reviews the pros and cons of the available treatment options, each a shot in the dark. Aiming for quality over quantity of life, and with "a roll of the dice," he says, Matthew decides to turn down chemotherapy and endures 33 treatments of agonizing radiation treatments to his head, neck and spine.
One month later he gets clear scans and is told there is no sign of cancer in his body, though he is still plagued with the side effects of his surgery and radiation treatments. True to his "get busy living" mantra, he pulls a Houdini and returns to school after spring break (against doctor's orders), completes his course work while somehow simultaneously producing a musical (book, music, lyrics) and graduates from college that May as a 22-year-old cancer survivor.