Motivational Speaker, Life Coach and Terminal Prostate Cancer Survivor, Matt Ode!! 😊👏
I am grateful to share with you the recording of one of our most popular interviews yet!! 😁 The interview is with my friend Matt Ode, who I'm so thrilled to have met and have the chance to now work with as he loves and serves the cancer community so well, beyond everyone's expectations. There were many inspiring lessons and motivational messages that Matt shared with us, but the one that stands out the most to me is the power of a positive mindset. Matt's cancer journey was really tough, to say the very least!! He was diagnosed with an 11cm tumor in his small intestine with other tumors in his lungs and all over his body at just 25 years old, for which he received chemotherapy for several months. Once his tumor shrunk to 3cm he had surgery, which triggered a series of events that almost killed him. Matt went into a non-induced coma twice, the first for 2 weeks, the second for 1 week, and experienced liver, kidney and heart failure. He spent 8 weeks in the hospital in total. However, his mom led 3 prayer vigils and hundreds of people prayed for him. During the last vigil, while his girlfriend held his hand, he finally woke up and had a second chance at life. He believed it was God was saying to him, "This isn't the end, it's only the beginning."
It took Matt one month of recovering in the hospital in bed to finally be able to take his first step, and even after that, he still ended up in the hospital a week later after battling depression without having his doctors and nurses there to help him. He decided he needed to change his life in order to survive to the next month and next year. As a personal trainer who had been in great shape, he had lost 80-90 pounds; but a little bit at a time he gained his strength back to where he is now, back to his normal weight and healthier and better than ever before! Matt's recovery was as much a battle of his mind as physical, if not more, as he was tempted many times to dwell on the difficulties of his circumstances. However, he chose, even through the darkest time of his life, and because of his faith, to encourage himself and do his best to inspire others around him.
So I hope that you'll get to listen to or watch Matt's incredible interview! I'm inspired by him and I'm sure you will be as well!! See the show notes below the song and verse if you'd like to read the details instead. 😊
God bless you! Sincerely, Bailey
Say I Won't by MercyMe (Wow, this song... 😲) Matthew 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matt Ode is a metastatic testicular cancer survivor who survived multiple close brushes with death! He had an 11cm tumor in his small intestine, 4 major surgeries and spent 53 days in the ICU, including a 2-week coma, complete kidney and liver failure and cardiac arrest!! Matt's story will inspire you that anything is possible!! During his battle he lost 80 pounds, which was really hard for him as a personal trainer. Since then he gained his strength back and he's back doing what he loves, helping people with fitness, but now also helping young adults looking to overcome the mental, physical and emotional struggles of cancer so they can take back control of their life a relationships! He started a Facebook group called Young Adult Cancer Community : Taking Back Your Life From Cancer, which is a vibrant, thriving community of young adults taking action to live their best lives through and after cancer
1:15 Matt: Your biggest obstacles also produce potentially the biggest positive outcome, lesson, opportunity to grow in your life.
1:53 Q) How he was diagnosed?
A) 4 years ago in 2016 dx with stage 3c testicular cancer. Noticed minor back pains. He had just started dating his gf a month prior and had to stop hiking, etc. One day he started vomiting blood. They figured out he lost 2/3 his blood supply but couldn't figure out why he was bleeding. He had emergency surgery and the next day he woke up and the doctor had a blank stare. He and his parents were there; the doctor grabbed his hand and told him that he had cancer, an 11cm tumor in his small intestine and he had to be rushed to the main campus in the Cleveland Clinic.
Lesson: His parents were crying at the time… How could I be strong for his parents and Lauren? He stopped focusing on himself and the potential negatives.
When you receive bad new in life you can have 2 responses: Why is this happening to me? Or how is this happening for me?
Negative energy, blame others and yourself, have a pity party… vs. learn and grow from it; become better and help others who are going through something similar. I'm going t o be positive, I won't let cancer define me.
4:50 Bailey: It reminds me, 2 days after we had a motivational speaker came and talked about staying positive, but for you it came from inside of you and that's really remarkable!
5:20 Matt: The biggest thing for him is his faith. "To each your own with your faith but for me…" God had a massive purpose in his life. Without my faith I wouldn't be here today, I know for a fact. That was a massive part of his mindset. He has something bigger, somebody up there pushing me.
5:56 Q) The hardest moment in his experience?
6:05 A) Sharing the news with his girlfriend. He was so nervous when she got there because they had only been dating 2.5 months. They hugged and all his emotions let loose and we was so glad because he had been holding all his emotions in. And not knowing what the outcome would be.
7:10 Q) How did the snowball of events occur?
A) They did 50 tests on him. He was diagnosed with the highest stage of testicular cancer, stage 3c (there is no stage 4).
BEP - 5 rounds of Bleomycin, Etoposide and Cisplatin. He had all the complications. Nauseous, extremely tired, lost all his hair.
Right in the middle his 3 year old puppy was diagnosed with cancer and died; it was devastating to him. He started to not want to go to chemo; made excuses for 4-5 days. One day he woke up and asked himself if Duke, his dog, Lauren, his parents would want him to give up? Absolutely not. So he did one little thing to get better. What is one thing I can do today to help myself get to where I want to be? Eating something a little healthier? Getting up to do to chemo. Get up off his bed and walk a little bit, etc. If you feel like you're in a rock bottom situation, don't feel like you need to do everything at once. One little thing a day can get you to a massive destination in no time. A lot of times we want instant gratification and we never get anything done because we try to do everything at once. One thing every day, one thing every day.
One day he finished chemotherapy. He had lost 40 pounds, bald, super weak.
His dad decided to host an event to celebrate his chemo. Over 400 people showed up at 6:30am in 35 degree weather. He didn't even know 200 of those people. A lot of people said they were praying for him, you're in our thoughts and we're here if you need us. If you think you're alone, I promise you you're not! There are people who want to help you and pray for you. It was a mindset shift for him and he realized he wasn't fighting this alone.
After the event, his doctor told him there was good news and bad news. The good news was the tumor shrunk from 11cm to 3cm. The bad news was that it was wrapped around the inferior vena cava, which is a central vein from the bottom of the upper body to the heart. We will have to do a 10-12 hour surgery to remove the vein and we'll have to get 4 surgeons involved and we have no idea what the complications could be. It was really emotionally draining going into the surgery but he thought this would be the end of his journey.
Went into the surgery at 140 lb. it was about a 10.5 hour surgery and they cut his whole abdomen up, from one hip to the other, and when he woke up he knew something was wrong. It was 3 days later, He couldn't move, he couldn't talk and he saw that his whole body was swollen. He was close to 200lb at that point. He gained 50 lb of swelling. When they took the vein out his body went into survival mode - or he doesn't know for sure and his doctors can't explain it. Even worse, 2 weeks later he's out of the hospital and he had a draining tube but all of a sudden it just stopped. And within minutes he was rushed back into the ER because he's in so much pain. They rushed him to the Cleveland Clinic and drained 7 liters of fluid, which put him into complete kidney and liver failure. They drilled into his skull and cut a cone out because they thought he was going to have swelling in his brain. They put a catheter in his chest and neck because they thought he was going to be on dialysis the rest of his life and that's when he went into a 2-week non-induced coma.
14:10 Big story of faith here. When he was in the coma, his mom who is very full of faith, a Christian, hosted prayer services. Hundreds of people showed up. Half of them didn't even believe in God. In the middle of the last prayer service, he woke up. He believes it was God saying to him, "This isn't the end, it's only the beginning." His girlfriend would say to him, "Matt, it's time to wake up." He can't explain everything but for him this is why his faith is stronger and stronger every day.
15:19 A week later they took the breathing tube out of his mouth and the catheter out and he gets an arrhythmic heart beat, goes into cardiac arrest and they have to do 8 minutes of CPR on him and 6 nurses have to do the CPR. He then goes into his second coma, which lasts a week long. He was in the ICU for 3-4 weeks by now. It was Valentine's Day and he woke up. He couldn't move his fingers, thought he was paralyzed. His doctors said he had a very long road of recovery ahead. As the days progressed he started to move his body. It took about 3 weeks for him to take his first step.
3-4 nurses each day helped him rehab. He was 3 surgeries in by now, and they wanted to move him out of the ICU. They get him out of bed, but he still feels like something is not right. But he listened to his nurses and in 3-4 days he's walking a bit better, but he was getting way too dizzy, and his stomach is still off. They were wheeling him in his bed to his last phase of recovery when his stitches pop open, his spleen sticks out and they have to rush him in for a major surgery called open wound surgery. They couldn't close his skin back together so they used a football sized mesh to cover his stomach and he ended up back in the ICU room.
18:00 He had OFFICIALLY reached rock bottom at this point and remembers looking at the ceiling. It was one of the scariest moments of his life but also the most life-changing. He woke up, knew where he was, had a breathing tube in his mouth his hands and legs were strapped to the bed and for 2 days no one knew that he was awake. He had to just sit there and pray. He could say I've fought so hard and I'm done, just take me, I'm good. Or if you give me this second chance, I promise I'll make something of it. I'll do something so big that will shock everyone. And eventually he was released from what he calls his shackles, and in three days, he walked farther than he ever had in previous times in the ICU and recovery room. Eventually he was in his final stages of physical therapy. He had to learn everything over, things that we take for granted, like going from laying down to sitting up in bed, to sitting on a toilet. It took about a week. He was in the hospital over 50 days and about 40 days in the ICU before he was released.
Funny story, the day he met his girlfriend Lauren was March 17, 2016, and he was released from being in the hospital for over 50 days, on March 17, 2017, exactly one year from the time he met her. :) She never met the hospital unless she had to work, her birthday passed during that time, she never went out to be with her friends. His family was also there and friends and family came to visit.
20:20 Who is that person who you know will always be there for you? Many times we take them for granted. We know that they'll be there for us if we ask for help. If we can recognize them, who that person is, some time today or tomorrow send them a message and tell them how thankful you are for them. Not only will it make a massive difference in their life, but it'll make a difference in your day, too. Too often we let it slide when we know there are people in their lives, maybe we will be the one who is there for someone else.
A support system is so important. If we try to do it on our own, we will end up with anxiety, depression, PTSD, anger. But the support system will help us.
It wasn't rainbows and butterflies. He was 110 pounds walking out of the hospital. As the weeks went by, he started to once again going into the victim mindset, getting angry and blaming other people. The next week he went right back into the hospital with a standing heart rate of 150 beats per minute, blood pressure through the roof, temperature through the roof and he had to stay there for close to a week. When he came out of the hospital, he and Lauren decided that if he didn't start doing the things he needed to do, he wouldn't be around in one from now or two months from now or next year.
So he did a 180 (degree turn), all he did was pick up a 5-pound dumbbell and started doing bicep curls for 20 minutes. The next day he did the same thing. Then he started walking 100 meters instead of 50 meters. Then instead of not eating as much he started eating more calories and eating healthier so he could gain weight. Maybe for someone who wants to lose weight they can start slowly cutting calories. He started drinking a little water… One thing every single day. Within a couple of months he started gaining 20-25 pounds. In 4-5 months he started gaining 30-35 pounds.
23:20 Another really cool story. :) About 6 months out of the hospital he was 145 pounds and decided to visit the doctors and nurses who helped him. The first person he saw was the first nurse who helped him, the admitting nurse. They hugged and both cried, and the nurse said, "Matt, I'm not even supposed to be here right now. This is my very last day in the ICU, I'm getting shipped off to another hospital tomorrow and this is a godsend. I wasn't even supposed to be working but someone had to call off and I had to come in and take their shift." Matt still talks to him today. People are meant to be in your life for a reason. There are too many stories in his life…
24:47 A year goes by, his stomach is healed and everything is starting to get back to normal. About two years goes by and he finally gets to the point where mentally, physically, emotionally, he's starting to feel like himself again. The biggest part was that he felt like there was something so much greater than he currently was doing. He realized that God has bigger plans for him. For a lot of you, you may be thinking what is the next step for me? For him, the next step was getting around the right people who were going in a similar direction as him. If you want to get to a destination, you need to be around people who are going in a similar direction as you. Don't be afraid to take that step. If you have a passion for something, you'll figure out a way to make it work, no matter what age you are. He started hanging around entrepreneurs because they solve problems and they want to accomplish massive things in their lives. As he started getting around them and into business groups, he started sharing his story. Others encouraged him to share his story more and that's how he became a motivational speaker. He started to get on stages last year then COVID hit and he had no idea what to do next. So he prayed, and God gave him another path and he slowly started to coach other cancer survivors who felt they had a bigger purpose in life and now, a little less than a month ago he created a Facebook group with cancer patients, survivors and caregivers, and in less than a month there are close to 300 people in the group already. It's not even him, he can't explain it. He's just so grateful, and wants to let you know that if you have a dream right now, you have a purpose. Don't be afraid to take action on it. Please do it. You will fail and get knocked down but that's how you grow, learn and truly become the best version of yourself and make a massive impact on the world. He's just so grateful for every day that he still has here.
28:30 Bailey felt the same after her cancer experience and had no idea what to do and prayed for 6 months before anything happened, when she started being mentored by a motivational speaker. Then the doors closed and she started doing cancer coaching and met Chris Wark.
30:00 Q) Matt, could you share about your fear of getting the Facebook group started?
A) It took him about 2.5-3 months to start the group but it's the best thing ever when he finally took the leap of faith. We are so easy to create false scenarios in our minds and we let it dictate our decisions but the quicker we can recognize that it's most likely not going to happen and that the world isn't going to end and we can still move forward, the quicker we can take imperfect action and start pursuing what's deep down in the heart. The most goosebumps and emotions he's ever had, including fear, was right before he did something big in his life. It's the most fear, but also the biggest passion in his heart. When he feels a lot of fear he knows it's just another wall he needs to break through, another setback he needs to overcome so he can figure out what the next step is in his journey.
31:35 Failure is feedback. Fear is: Face Everything And Rise. He lives by that, and the motto that "everything happens for you not to you." Things are completely unfair but if you have a breath on this earth, you have the decision of how you want to control that situaiton. It may not be fair but are you going to let it define you or take it by the horns and be the best person you can through it, and if/when you do overcome this situation, the number of people you can help will be so huge. Are you going to let it define you or are you going to be the person who overcomes the situation and is victorious?
32:45 Bailey: Make failure your friend. The faster you go through life, the faster you're going to make mistakes.
Matt: Success rewards speed. The quicker you're willing to fail and take risks, the quicker you're going to find success. Every no gets you closer to a yes.
34:25 Sydney: Faithful surrender.
Jeff: Q) What chemo did you do?
A) Bleomycin, Etoposide and Cisplatin
Q) What do you feel about chemo?
A) It may not be for everyone, but for him he needed it because his cancer was so far advanced. Everyone is different and our bodies react differently. He's heard miracles of people who go off chemo and they're sharing their story. To him that's faith and bigger than anything medical. To him he truly thinks he needed chemo. He has had some side effects but it got his tumor down to where it needed to be and eliminated the cancer that had spread to his lungs and all over his body.
He can now work out 6-7 days per week. He doesn’t set any limits on himself. This is a problem he sees with many people who go through challenging times whether it's from cancer or another traumatic experience physically in their body, is, don't put limitations on yourself. So many doctors told him he couldn't do things, which he has tried, done and is doing. They say he's a miracle, but he's not a miracle, he just gave it a shot. Just because one person tells you something, doesn't mean that's going to be your result. What he went through with his diagnosis, he probably shouldn't be here today or if he could then he shouldn't be able to do the things he's able to do. He didn't put limitations on himself and pushed himself forward every day. He did it consistently. Consistency is key, whether you're trying to figure out your health, finances, relationship… Show up every day and be present!! Whatever you're doing, don't be distracted, be present in that moment, then show up in the next thing. We're so distracted through social media, the news, the election, etc. The more focused you get the more clear you're going to get on your direction and your results.
38:00 Everything in life happens for you and not to you. Stop saying why is this happening to me? Stop going into a victim mindset. A lot of the time when we go through a problem, it's not going to be fair, it'll be unexpected. If we constantly let it define us, blame other people and have a negative mindset toward it, it'll get us nowhere. But the second we say how can we learn from it, grow from it and use it to help others, is when we can finally learn and grow from the experience and not let it define us. So many people have depression anxiety, anger, PTSD. He tries to tell them that they're falling into a victim mindset, blaming yourself and other people and not saying how can I learn from this. It's unfair, he gets it! You have two ways to look at it. Will you let life drag you down or will you become the superhero of your life and help other people through the same experience?
39:33 Q) Did you implement any nutritional changes in your life?
A) Yes, his BP and BS were a little high. He cut back on sodium in his diet. He was lifting a ton and still lifts a lot and ingested a lot of sodium because he sweat a lot and needed to replenish his sodium. So his blood pressure has come down a bit. A lot of fruits and vegetables. A lot of lean meats like chicken, lean turkey. He has red meat once in a while because he loves steak. If you're a vegetarian there are other options as well. But the one thing he cut back on a bit is sodium. He also drinks a lot of water now. We're made up mostly of water; when you drink at least a half a gallon of day it helps you absorb nutrients and healthy things you put in your body and flush out toxins. It's almost like you're not taking in as many nutrients if you don't drink enough water to help with the absorption. Water also helps with many other things including muscle cramping, blood pressure and blood sugar. Tons of vegetables. Find whatever vegetables you like. Leafy greens are awesome. Spinach, kale, broccoli, peppers. Fruits - he mostly does berries. Blueberries are his go-to. If you're trying to lose or gain weight. He's been a trainer for 8 years, go online and figure out what your maintenance calories are and cut it by 250 calories and see how it works. If you try to cut back more than that you'll feel like crap. If you need to gain weight, add 250 calories per day.
42:00 LeeAnn: Not only are you a miracle, but God gave you so much wisdom for 29.
Matt: I'm just blessed to be able to share my experience for everybody. HOPE = Help One Person Everyday. If you can do that, you'll feel amazing about yourself and have a fulfilling journey the rest of your life.
42:48 Q) How did you get rid of all the rest of the cancer in your body?
A) I did the surgery, they removed the tumor and the lymph nodes. He was cancer-free when he went into the coma. RPLND (Laparoscopic Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection) is the acronym for the surgery.
43:30 Gordon: Was diagnosed with stage 2 testicular cancer and has had 3 surgeries since then and has been on surveillance. His second surgery was the NPLND which was not a fun experience to go through. He hasn’t had the need of chemo but it's been a whirlwind of an experience. He feels fortunate that he's been able to avoid chemo because of the surgery. He's feeling good, with all he's been through.
Matt: Over time he'll get better. Don't forget to do the rehab. You'll look back in a year and be so proud of what you've been able to overcome and you'll be able to share your experience with them.
45:42 Q) When did you go through all of this?
A) 2016 he was diagnosed, 2017 he had all the complications. August to November 2016 was the chemo and complications were January to March 2017. His recovery took two years and for him it was the mental and emotional part before the physical. If you're trying to recover physically, you need to be ready in your head too. You need to be prepared for the days you're not feeling good and recognize it's a mental and emotional battle and keep pushing forward to get your self better.
46:42 You can send Matt a direct message and join his Facebook group. He loves to help people create their own stories to help others.
47:50 Last thing! :) If you have something in your heart don’t' be afraid to go and do it! Take that imperfect action! Just go for it! You might fail but in the end you'll be so happy you did it.
48:10 Q) How can we pray for him?
A) He'd rather pray for all of us, for anyone struggling to find hope in their life, find that path and that direction.