5 Things You Can Do For Matt

Matt Cameron did not get a miracle – at least in the way we were all hoping.  But several people have said the true miracle was the way he united all of us in prayer, hope and communication these last eight months… and that Matt felt all the LOVE that he had for his fellow humans be RETURNED to him in his last days.

Humans are creatures of ACTION, though.  And death sometimes makes us feel helpless.  What can we do for Matt now that he is gone?

1 – Pray.  Pray for the repose of his soul.  I found this prayer on the holy card from my dad’s funeral, and it is ideal: “O gentlest Heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on the soul of Thy departed servant, Matthew.  Be not severe in Thy judgment, but let some drops of Thy Precious Blood fall upon the devouring flames, and so, Thou O merciful Savior, send Thine angels to conduct Thy departed servant to a place of refreshment, light and peace. Amen.”

Have a Mass said for Matt.  Pray for Tatiana, Dante, Evan, and Blais especially as they deal with this terrible loss.  Pray for Matt’s parents and siblings and friends in their time of grief.  Pray that God sends us all comfort and grace at this time.

2 – Mourn / Party.  Matt expressed explicitly that he wanted an old fashion Irish wake with lots of stories and laughter.  I am told there will be lots of music, tale-telling, and pictures at the wake.  Attend if you can.  Here are the details for visitation, Mass, burial, and wake:

Sunday, November 19th:
Visitation at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home, Franklin, TN – 4:00-6:30 PM; Rosary: 6:30 PM

Monday, November 20th:
Visitation at St. Philip Church (Narthex) Franklin, TN – 10:00-10:50 AM
Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 AM
Burial, lunch and “Irish Wake” with stories, laughter and music at St. Philip Church Community Center following the funeral.

 

3 – Send condolences.  Reach out to Tatiana and the rest of the family.  Maybe put a story/remembrance about Matt in there!  Here is the address:

Tatiana Cameron and Family

2020 Fieldstone Pkwy
Ste #900-249
Franklin, TN 37069

4 – Donate.  Dealing with medical bills, funeral costs, and the loss of income will not be easy for the Camerons.  You can send a check to Tatiana at the address above or donate to the GoFundMe page linked here.

Matt’s buddies also set up a college fund for the three boys.  Linked here are the details.

5 – Give of Yourself.  I saw a great post on facebook yesterday which said that if you really want to memorialize Matt, then reach out to another “human of the earth.”  Seriously, give a meal to a homeless guy.  Invite that lonely looking co-worker to lunch.  Help a fellow artist with their project for free.  Make a donation to a good cause in Matt’s name.  Sit down and chat with someone and give them your FULL attention.  That is what he would do.

A Good Friend?

Matt Cameron touched many people’s lives. Many people had wonderful life experiences with Matt. Although I was not close too Matt nor knew him incredibly well I had a number of memorable fun experiences with him while attending Christendom College when he was present on campus. I have memorable moments of Matt when I lived in LA. One of many, being when Chris and I went boogie boarding with Matt. I could go on and on, but I will refrain. My deep sympathy to Matt’s wife, children, parents and siblings.

There may not be any words to describe the pain Matt’s family and friends must feel. My heart and prayers extend to the repose of the soul of Matt and to his family and friends in mourning.

I decided to do something very rare and respond on my husband’s FB page, to an ARTICLE that my husband Chris Foley wrote and published about his perception of his relationship with his friend Matt Cameron. So I have attached it in WORD – If you decide to read it, kindly please excuse my grammar and such, I am not a professional writer so my writing will not be up to par.

Everyone mourns in different ways and there are so many different feelings that come and go in times like this. Emotions can overwhelm us. As Chris’ wife of over a decade and being with him daily I have to completely disagree respectfully with you Chris, that “you were not a good friend to Matt.” You were a good friend to MATT and I saw it, heard it and experienced it. You guys traveled the world together, you moved out to LA together- to take an adventure, take a risk and make movies together. You guys were buddies. You surfed together, worked around movie sets together. Lived in the same house together.

However, as we all know, as we walk or run down our path in life it can take turns expected and unexpected – his life and your life took these turns. Matt married and had children, you married and had many, many things going on in your life. Matt moved out of LA and you moved away from LA eventually as well. You both naturally went down different paths. That is just life.

HOWEVER, I know being your wife you both kept in touch by email even though you lived miles apart from one another. He also joined you on a guy’s adventure (which you organized) a few times when his time allowed. After years of email exchanges, out of some odd twist of fate YOU BOTH ended up in NASHVILLE. Coincidence? No, divine providence. I think God gave you BOTH a chance to reconnect physically instead of by email to finish what you moved together “as a team” to LA for – to MAKE MOVIES. You did reach out to Matt a number of times when we moved back here to Nashville. For whatever reason as Matt said to you “something was keeping you from meeting up” – your paths still were just not connecting. Chris, continued about his life and accepted that it just wasn’t meant to be – to connect with Matt in person.

About 2 years prior to returning to Nashville Chris and I were at an evening event when we heard the life story of Fr. Augustus Tolton. For some reason I felt very drawn to the story and so did Chris. I said to him “I think you should make this movie, I think it needs to be done.” Over the course of a year or two Chris wrote the screenplay and then it came to a stand still. We moved back to Nashville and the screenplay sat in the background of our life.

After about six months to a year of being back in Nashville, the thought of Chris’ movie slowly penetrated my mind. It was a Saturday, we were not doing anything pressing, just staying around the house. I looked at Chris and said “You know why don’t you just embark on the this Tolton movie, I think you need to do it, do not worry about the money, pray and leave it to God to figure that part out. If he wants it to happen the money will follow.” So within minutes of sharing this with Chris he had put his shoes on and we left the house and started location scouting together. The movie was in its very baby stages.

A few months after scouting around Nashville as to where to film, we received a somber phone call from Chris’ sister – Matt Cameron was diagnosed with lung cancer. We were silent, shocked, sad and teary eyed.

Chris wanted to reach out to Matt again, so he did. Chris called Matt and asked Matt what he wanted to do with the time he had left here on earth. Chris told me Matt’s response was to stay home and be with his family. As you all know reading Chris’ article Chris suggested doing a movie and Matt said “let’s do it.” Oddly under these circumstances, Matt and Chris FINALLY crossed paths in person! Chris, YOU BOTH jumped on the movie train. Our time is not God’s time. It was God’s timing, we do not know why at this time and not years prior, but it was this path, this time. Chris, you and Matt finished, as a team what you both endeavored on doing 20 years ago – making a movie. What a GIFT from God.

This was exciting. FINALLY you two were working together again as I always hoped you would! My support was 100% behind you from ice cream trips, bathroom runs and all the menial gopher work I was happy to do in 95 + degree weather in the thick humidity of the south. What a time for everyone involved in the film, especially Matt.

However, I cannot support that unfortunate opinion that you, Chris, believe you were not a good friend to Matt. As your wife and friend I think it is good and mature to be introspective and forthright, but only when the truth lies in the forthrightness. Life circumstances happen to all of us and we CANNOT control so many of them. We can only do at times what we are capable of doing. You both had been down different paths, but you kept in touch, reached out and LOVED from a distance.

In addition Matt had told me one day when we were living in LA that “Chris Foley is a loyal friend.” Chris, Matt knew this. You prayed for him incessantly like a warrior in a battle when he was diagnosed with cancer. YOU NEVER gave up on him. Like many, you never gave up hope for a miracle, even until his last breath. I was there, I saw your hope. You asked many people to also become prayer warriors for Matt as he began his war with cancer. You fought spiritually hard for your friend and did not quit. I have no doubt that Matt will be praying for his wife, children, his parents, siblings, cousins and all his friends, and this includes you, his FRIEND. You will again keep that connection with him from a distance. That is the communion of Saints.

I am not saying Matt is a saint but I am saying that staying connected is the beautiful part of our faith, the holy CATHOLIC CHURCH. We pray for those in purgatory, those in heaven pray for us on earth. It makes a circle, as cheesy as it sounds it makes a circle of LOVE. Where is the source of ALL love? GOD our LORD, SAVIOR AND BEST FRIEND JESUS CHRIST.

IF you were comparing yourself to JESUS – NO you could not have been as good friend as JESUS was to MATT. JESUS is THE MAN and the best friend of all friends. HOWEVER you could have looked to Christ as an example and you did – you prayed, reached out, never lost hope and cared for his soul- his eternal salvation. He had many other friends – near, far, close and those that did not even know Matt prayed for him and his soul. His brother Fr. Ben administered the greatest gifts to him- THE SACRAMENTS. Grace flowing from these gifts nourishing his soul. His loving family cared for his soul and barely left his side while in the hospital.

The good friend in this life and the next cares for the most important part of us “humans” as MATT would say HIS SOUL. The good friend cares for the soul because it is ETERNAL because it comes from the source of all goodness, God, and his only begotten son, Jesus, OUR BEST FRIEND. We are made for eternity to be in heaven with God the source of all love. A loving person has Christ as the object of their love and wants to be in heaven with him wants to see others in heaven with Jesus and will do what he needs to help souls here on earth get to heaven; where our ultimate love waits for us – and THAT my husband, my friend is a GOOD friend. You were a GOOD friend to Matt.

This time is now about MATT CAMERON, and his FAMILY mourning this loss. Pray for them that they me comforted by the Holy Ghost, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary’s most immaculate heart. May the soul of Matt Cameron rest in peace. Pray for the repose of his soul, if he went straight to heaven God will apply those prayers to another soul if he is in purgatory then CONTINUE to be his friend and pray for his soul to be released swiftly. God love you.

Stop Canonizing My Mother!

By Reverend Joseph Portzer, FSSP

Editors Note: With the death of a close friend (Matt Cameron, to whom this blogsite is dedicated) and an uncle in the same week, thoughts of the eternal have been filling my mind.  Another very close friend, Father Portzer, lost his mom a few weeks ago as well.  I knew her, and can attest she was a very good woman who raised 14 children in the Faith.  However, while reflecting on his mother’s life, Father wrote about authentic Catholic teaching – not about Heaven – but about Purgatory.  -CF

Even before my mother died about two weeks ago, the usual silly practice of canonizing those we love was starting. Friends from our parish visited her, and attempted to comfort her by telling her what a good person she was, and of course my mother protested. It is an odd trap when you receive compliments you don’t deserve as a Catholic. If you tell them you are not so virtuous as they think, then they just have one more reason to praise you: you are so humble you don’t see your own virtues! My mother told me later that she really didn’t understand why they said such things to her. I told her to ignore their remarks, because she knew the truth about herself, and they did not. My mother knew she was not a saint. She could have honestly listed her sins if anyone had asked her to do so.

After she died I was on the receiving end of condolences from many at her parish, and far too often I heard some remark that assumed she was already in Heaven because of her personal goodness. One good woman even told me that I had a new intercessor in Heaven. It astounds me how far this false teaching has spread, because although this was coming from traditional Catholics, I even heard a traditional priest make the same sort of remark at a funeral sermon within the last few years. This misplaced praise and this misunderstanding of God’s mercy have to stop. I am most of all troubled by the fact that such remarks sweep away all motivation to pray for the deceased. When my grandmother died, the priest addressed all of her grieving relatives and friends with words that I now paraphrase: I am sure that God sees all the prayers that have been said and will be said for her, and because of them she is now in Heaven.

The problem with that sermon, and the sermon I heard a traditional priest preach, and the problem with all those who are so sure my mother is in Heaven, is that they are completely ignorant of basic Catholic teaching. The problematic result is that they assure themselves and others that someone is in Heaven, and therefore, logically, there is no reason to pray for the deceased or to have Masses said for them. It is this sort of silly thinking that causes us to have funeral Masses wearing white vestments. White, in Western culture, is the color of joy and celebration. It is not appropriate for funerals. This is why, in his encyclical Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII warned against the then beginning trend to have funeral Masses in white vestments. His warnings were ignored. The “everyone goes to Heaven” thinking took over the Church. Black vestments, by contrast, show mourning at the loss of a friend or relative, and rightly show forth a Church which begs God to have mercy on His departed servant.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 1030, we find this teaching on Purgatory: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” What people are saying when they claim that my mother was so good that she went to Heaven immediately or very soon after she died is that my mother died in or very near the state of perfection. They have no idea what they are talking about. First, let’s recall the life of a very holy woman who lived a life of heroic virtue for years, St. John Bosco’s mother. She had a difficult life, losing her husband early and living in poverty as she raised her sons. Then, when her son John became a priest and began to care for boys by the dozens and then by the hundreds, she was at his side cooking, cleaning, mending, and that right to the end. Her life was one of work and sacrifice, and she did it all with a deep spirit of faith. When she died, St. John Bosco was praying for hours that she would go straight to Heaven, and was there to give her the sacraments of the Church.

Some time after she died, she appeared in a dream to him and spoke with him. He asked her if she had gone straight to Heaven. She replied very directly, “No.” After telling him that she sang a hymn in praise of God. You may need to read that over again to grasp the full import of it. She lived a heroic and difficult life, she poured herself out for years for poor needy boys, she was accompanied by the sacraments of the Church and the prayers of her saintly son, a priest, and she went to Purgatory. Now take all your pious ideas about good people going straight to Heaven and throw them right in the trash. The Church has never taught this.

What has the Church taught? That only those who are completely perfect go straight to Heaven. That is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that all who are “still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification.” We can get into more detail on this subject by consulting a doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross. St. John mapped out in his spiritual writings the purifications a person will go through if he gives himself generously to God in this life. At the beginning of a serious spiritual life, he purifies himself by carefully avoiding all sin, both mortal and venial, and then by giving up those things which satisfy his senses but which he does not need, and that includes all satisfactions for each of his senses. God, in response to this generosity, brings his soul through the first of two purifications, which St. John calls the dark night of the senses. In this night spiritual consolations are taken away, temptations may increase, and various calamaties may afflict him: loss of health, financial disaster, loss of friends, the death of one or more loved ones and so on. At the same time the spiritual life, because no consolations are present, seems dry, boring and useless, and prayer can be very difficult. Sometimes, as happened to St. Therese of Lisieux, a most painful attack of scruples takes place. He must persevere through all of this in order to benefit from it. Although it seems like a time of punishment, it is instead a time of great spiritual blessing and growth. It can last for years.

After the dark night of the senses the soul emerges into a time when prayer is easy, and can last for a long time. The dryness is gone, and a period of spiritual prosperity is felt. If a person is faithful to God through this time he will grow ever more in his generosity to God, and will sacrifice everything to Him. Many years, perhaps even decades, will pass in a time of spiritual advancement, and then, due to his very great generosity, God rewards him by putting him into the dark night of the soul. Those of you who have read the story of the interior darkness experienced by St. Teresa of Calcutta entitled Come Be My Light know what a difficult experience this is. Many were scandalized to know that someone who seemed so holy on the outside, and brought such peace and happiness to others, was dry and miserable on the inside. They did not know the truth about the dark night of the soul. It is a most painful experience, very bitter, dark and horrible. The soul even feels at times that it is doomed to Hell, that it somehow has become God’s enemy. St. John of the Cross describes it in terms that leave no doubt about the horrors of the dark night of the soul. This night, however, plunges a person advancing towards God into terrible darkness precisely because they are coming closer to God, and the evil that is in us is purged by the fire of God’s perfect holiness. St. John aptly compares a person going through both of the dark nights to a log that is placed on a fire. At first, the log smokes and exudes all sort of impurities, it turns black, but then it finally begins to burn. The fire penetrates deeper and deeper into the log, until finally it is a glowing, burning coal of fire. It has become just like the fire itself. In the dark night of the senses saints are made, they become just like God Himself, about whom St. Paul said, “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)

And how long does this last? That depends on a few things, such as how holy God wants to make the person, how generously they endure the suffering, and what they are able to endure. In the case of St. Teresa of Calcutta, by exception, it lasted to the end of her life. Normally the saints pass, after many years, through this stage and within a few years they die, having reached a very great holiness. St. John says that those who have successfully passed through the dark night of the spirit go directly to Heaven because they have gone through their Purgatory on earth.

What does that mean for the rest of us? How many of us have even given up all earthly pleasures, and have then been taken by God through the first purification, the night of the senses? Just about nobody. I cannot say that I know of even one person who has gone through that night, which is quite an intense experience, more painful than anything the average good Catholic has ever endured. And how many have then been blessed with years of increased spiritual growth, and have shown great generosity to God and served him with great zeal and self-sacrifice? And how many have gone through the dark night of the spirit, and therefore have no need of Purgatory? How many such persons do you know? I am certain I don’t know any. Now you see why it is sheer foolishness when a priest in a funeral sermon assures everyone that the deceased is in Heaven, and when people tell themselves or others that surely such a good person is in Heaven?

Further, the Church has a most carefully planned process by which it decrees that a person is in Heaven. This is a decision that is made only by whomever is Pope, and not by anyone else. It is a multi-layered process, involving the gathering of testimony from witnesses, repeated reviews by the Church, and decisions made carefully one step at a time as the holy person passes from being venerated first as a servant of God, then a venerable, then a blessed and finally a saint. Miracles have to be proven for the cause to advance all the way. I wonder if anyone who declares someone to be in Heaven realizes that they have just snatched away the job proper to a pope when they make their bold statement? My goodness, so many self-appointed popes and popesses! And now that you have read the Catholic teaching on the matter, will you please stop canonizing my mother? Thank you.

My mother was sensible Catholic woman, and she knew full well that her deceased relatives and friends, no matter how much she loved them and how dear they were to her, were to be prayed for. I have never met anyone who had Masses offered for the dead like my mother. I remember that a common item in the parish bulletin for many years was “Mass for the poor souls in Purgatory, requested by the Portzer family.” Portzer family = my mother. One day I was looking through an old book and found a parish bulletin from the 1960’s, and I wondered if I would find it, and there it was, “Mass for the poor souls, requested by the Portzer family.” In her last weeks my mother left a message for all of us in the family, but also for everyone else, through my brother. He wrote her words down faithfully, and they are as follows: Please live your life well so we may meet again in Heaven. Strong Catholic words, those. But do not assume that she thought that she was going straight to Heaven. My mother was quite resistant to such foolishness, for she knew that, like all of us, she was a sinner. And that is why she said to me and to a few others who were in the room with her, just days before she died, “I don’t want a bunch of flowers. I want Masses.”

So if you are one of those people who tried to canonize my mother (or other victims of modern un-Christian thinking) even though you do not have the power to do so, it’s time to take off your papal tiara, consider the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and that of St. John of the Cross, and pray. Now you are doing what my mother would approve of wholeheartedly. If you keep thinking like a Catholic, you might find yourself doing what she did, requesting Masses for the poor souls in Purgatory.

Soar Fearlessly, Matt Cameron

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Matt and I on top of a pyramid in Egypt in 1997.

My friend, Matt Cameron passed to eternity yesterday at the age of 47 years… 47 of the fullest years I have ever seen a “human of the earth” produce. I knew him for 27 of those years, and I can attest that he truly lived “A life less ordinary” (which was also a movie he said he liked, but secretly I think he just really wanted to steal the title.)

He hailed from Kokomo, Indiana. I thought he was making that up when I first met him at Christendom College in 1990… riffing off that new Beach Boys song or something. He seemed fake to me. He was too smooth – too flirty with the girls – too cool to be true – as he offered people a ride on the back of his motorcycle. Matt was trying too damn hard to be popular with the drinking crowd – even though he didn’t drink much – AND with the religious crowd at Christendom – even though he didn’t seem like he prayed all the time. And EVERYONE seemed to like him, so I knew it must all be an act. He had to be the most insecure person in the world to put on this show.

So, being the straight-shooter I am… I kind of avoided him a lot my first year at school. But, I kept making really good friends with all of HIS friends. All the people I was drawn to for their sincerity… thought Matt was the best. My sister even liked him, and I thought, “How can she be this stupid?” So, Matt started to come into the sphere of my world more and more. And I gradually realized that he really was sincere when he looked at you with his huge “all seeing eyes” and asked you about you. He really wanted to know. In fact, he hardly ever spoke about himself. If Matt wasn’t talking to you about you, he was talking to you about another person who he just thought was the coolest. He was obsessed with people – all people… every person was an endless story for him to read.

I eventually gave in and hopped on the Matt Cameron train. He was the real deal.

Since I was a little late to the party, we were never super close during college. In fact, he never even told me his “back-story” until maybe TEN years later… That he was going through a spiritual crisis the year before I met him… That he felt that his life was over in 1989 Kokomo – doomed to “a life SUPER ordinary” as a stuck-in-the-small-town-mud-nobody… He wasn’t very religious at all then, despite the best efforts of his awesome parents. But, he turned to God in a big way when the crisis peaked. He told God that if he could get out of this mess, he would make God a priority… he’d become interested in that former human of the earth, Jesus. He’d even go to that po-dunk religious school his parents and future-priest brother wanted him to go to. The crisis passed, of course, and Matt kept his promise to God, even though he had no desire to come to little Front Royal, Virginia for college.

One short story I will relate from college was about Matt on the soccer team. He had hardly ever played soccer, but most of his circle of friends were on the team, so he came aboard. Being such a tiny school, we weren’t even division 3, and we were playing schools 30x bigger. But, we had some superstars, and were actually competitive and won most of our games. I was never a great player, but I knew the game really well because I had been playing since age 5. Because I couldn’t dribble well or run fast, I had mastered the task of stealing the ball from people, and that was the only way I got the starting spot at left fullback. When our right fullback got hurt, Matt came to me and asked me for tips so he could be a starter too. His roommate Jon Carlson was our star defender and I think he just wanted to be around his friends. But anything Matt did, he did 110%. He practiced HARD to learn soccer for the first time at age 21. He played fearlessly and he earned that starting spot back there with Jon and I, and we became closer because of that.

Matt changed the course of MY life twice in the next 5 years. The first time was when I confided to him that my dad had made a cross-country camping trip in 1947, and I had a dream to follow that path. I had already asked all the friends that I was closer to to go, and they all begged off for various reasons – usually money. Matt didn’t have any money either, so I’m not sure why I asked him. But he seemed interested. But Matt always seemed interested in what I had to say, so I didn’t get my hopes too high. But the next time I stopped by his dorm room, he had a US map pinned to the wall with some marks on it. I asked him what that was for. He said, “That’s for our cross-country trip this summer. You gotta make marks on all the spots your dad went.”

As you all know, not only did we go on that trip, but it turned into FOUR trips total. Matt even dragged along a few other guys – including Jon Carlson and Sam Aronhime, who said he hated camping and was basically traveling with us under protest just for camaraderie – (i.e. – because Matt had asked him.) Sam subsequently became my closest friend ever… That was because of Matt. Matt was the straw that stirred the drink.

We named our group the Tumbleweeds because that was Matt’s call name on his CB. We went to Europe together in 1995 and Israel/Greece/Turkey/Egypt in 1997. During that third trip, (I don’t remember which day, but probably on a day where we literally walked in Jesus’ footsteps) Matt offered to change my life for a second time. I was getting ready to do my thesis movie in film school. With my usual overly-ambitious bravado, I told him I was going to make an actual 90 minute feature film, even though my professors had limited us to 30 minutes. I was going to sneak it. Not only that, it was going to be a Civil War film. PLUS, I was then going to take my movie and move to Hollywood and break into the business. Matt was like, “OK, but when we get to California, you need to learn to surf with me.”

Matt quit his job in Virginia, moved to Rochester to live with me, and, YES, we made the film. Then, Matt took off for L.A., while I edited the movie AND found us a place to live AND started making connections for us on film crews. He got me my first gig on a movie in L.A., and used his construction skills so we could repair our Christendom College professor’s abandoned house and live rent free for nearly two years. When he was getting ready to marry Tatiana, I was angry at him for skipping out on Tumbleweeds 4. I was angry at Matt when he said I should stay home too and take the gig I had just gotten with the Directors Guild of America instead. But, he wasn’t angry with me. When I came back – in debt for the first time in my life because of some of our debacles in Africa – he found me another gig on an infomercial so I could get back in the black.

And when that actually became a staff job – kind of an actual career – Matt warned me this was a problem. I needed to stay in feature films. I needed to stay hungry, he said. We can make another movie. But, I didn’t listen to Matt this time. And, I wish I had. Probably my only real regret in my life is that I did not listen to Matt Cameron’s advice in 1999.

We drifted apart over the next 10 years – even had a good old-fashioned, not-speaking fight for awhile, I am ashamed to say. But, Matt apologized first, of course. He tried to get back with me first – even offered me a gig once. But, we were not close any more. Everyone on Facebook keeps telling me I was such a good friend to Matt. But, I wasn’t. I wasn’t. I hardly knew him when he and Tajci were doing their epic 1000 concerts all over the map. I hardly knew him when he had marriage problems and probably needed someone to talk to. I hardly know his kids.

By some twist of fate, we both ended up in Nashville after each moved several times. I was finally a softer man, and I called Matt a few times. Come to our Christmas party. Join our softball team. We are having a Nashville Christendom reunion. Matt kept saying, “I really want to. I will. Something keeps coming up. Something is keeping us apart. We will meet up.”

Then Matt got cancer. I didn’t even hear it from Matt. I heard it from my sister.

And I called Matt. And I said, “Do you want to go on another Tumbleweed trip?” And he said, “Hell. No. Do you know how many trips I have been on in the last 15 years? I want to be home.”

And I said – undoubtedly with my usual selfish intentions – “Do you want to make that other movie we never made?” And Matt said yes. Matt changed my life for the THIRD time. Changed my life for the oh-so-much better… again.

The first time I saw Matt for probably three years was when he was in a special recliner that was for the back pain the cancer was causing. It was a meeting with HIS video production team to make MY movie. Eternal thanks to Corey and Logen for that meeting and for EVERYTHING that followed this summer.

I don’t know if our new short film, “Across,” is great. I am editing the final scene this week. But I do know it is the best thing I have ever made. And it is because of Matt. Because Matt put my crew together. Because Matt came to EVERY audition and helped me pick my cast. Because Matt got on the phone and found locations. Because Matt found us money. Because Matt gave me advice on the set. Because Matt hiked a mile uphill in 90 degree Tennessee heat with Stage IV Cancer to watch our horse chase scene. Because Matt put on 1800’s clothes and sat in a wagon to be an extra. Because Matt prayed for me and offered up his suffering for me and for our film…

Matt is the best friend I could have ever asked for. And I did not return the favor. I am trying now, when it is too late. I am posting pictures of him every day to get people to pray for him. PRAY for him still, dammit. Don’t canonize him. If by some slim chance Matt is in Purgatory, we need to get him out ASAP. Pray for Matt. And I helped publicize a college fund that Greg Bodoh and Andrew Youngblood came up with for Matt’s boys. http://www.Tumbleweeds.info

But I was not the friend that Matt Cameron was. But, I am going to try to be that friend to anyone else that needs a friend. Because Matt would make a friend with ANYONE.

One of our mutual friends put on Facebook yesterday, that Matt was “resting peacefully.” Tatiana replied, “Resting peacefully? Hm. More like soaring fearlessly. :).

Yes, I think Matt is soaring fearlessly, making friends in heaven, and helping more “humans of earth” (as he liked to call us) down here with his prayers. Good bye, Matt. I love you. I will see you again. Soar fearlessly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Closes in on CAR T Miracle?

As Matt Cameron’s army of prayer warriors continue to beg God (and his friends in heaven) for a miracle, the answer MAY have arrived in an unexpected form.

Matt has been approved to take part in a trial procedure called CAR T Cell Therapy.  This process has worked wonders on other forms of cancers, and Matt will be in the first group in the world to undergo treatment for Stage IV “hard” lung cancer.  The process involves removing Matt’s cells, fortifying them in a lab to fight cancer, and then re-inserting them.  The first stages are complete and the re-insertion is now scheduled for October 16th.

The trial for Matt has been at risk due to several health issues related to his cancer, but as of today – October 4 – he has the green light.

From Matt:  “All systems are a GOOOOOO!!!!!   whew.  🙂  Grinning.  Getting a biopsy today.  I’m on the HOME STRETCH.  Start getting chemo on Mon (three days). And I get admitted on Sun the 15th (evening) and they give me my cells on Mon.  And watch me for 2-5 days (might be longer … they really don’t know).  And then … God knows.  The researcher Docs said that the results in the blood cancers are nothing short of staggering.  She said it is like when the polio vaccine was discovered. They really don’t know what to expect with hard cancers like mine – but hopes are high.  Thanks for the prayers!!!!!”

Please keep the prayers coming!  Matt has a special devotion to Father Augustine Tolton, the first African American priest, who he is producing a movie about.  Asking “Father Gus’s” intercession for Matt is greatly appreciated.  Tolton needs a miracle to be attributed to him in order to be raised to sainthood; as you know, Matt needs a miracle too!

You can also help by contributing to the college fund that has been set up for Matt’s 3 sons.  Click here.

3rd Tolton Novena for Matt’s Birthday

As many of you know, Matt is entering a crucial stage in his cancer treatment.  His fortified cells are to be injected back into him on October 6 as part of the CAR-T therapy.  In the meantime, the cancer has spread to other parts of his body, causing him breathing and heart problems.  Matt is back in the hospital here in Nashville, praying that he can stay well enough to participate in the CAR-T.

We are turning once again to Father Tolton’s intercession for Matt.  Please join us in saying the Father Augustine Tolton prayer for 9 days.  We’ll start on the Feast of Mary’s Seven Sorrows on Friday, September 15th and conclude on Matt’s birthday on the 23rd.

Here is a link to the FACEBOOK EVENT where you can pledge your support.

Here is a link with the text of the PRAYER we will be saying.

 

 

CAR-T Cell Process Starts Now for Matt

Matt’s CAR-T Cell procedure starts today!  He is in the very first group to try this new technology for this type of cancer.  The process involves taking Matt’s cells out, then training them in a laboratory to fight cancer.  When that process is done in September, the cells will be re-inserted into Matt’s body to go to war.

Matt had a scare yesterday when it appeared that he had failed the final test to determine if he could participate in CAR-T.  I’ll let him tell the story:

“Almost positive the crisis was side stepped (thank you all for the prayers and thank GOD for hearing them.)

I passed all the lung tests (that I found out I failed a few hours ago).

Today I failed the first one as well (not much I could do) and the technician (God bless Diane) asked “how tall are you?” I said I was 6′. She persisted “when was the last time someone measured”. I said that I’ve been regularly measured at the Dr’s offices.
She persisted further “mind if I measure”. I said sure but I was curious why. She explained that 1″ or even 1/2 inch shorter would give me a different body mass which would effect the tests.

We measured: sure enough I was shorter. And, thank God, the numbers changed and suddenly I passed the test I had failed. (She didn’t fudge the numbers – cancer and age just ate an inch of my height.)

I never imagined I’d be so happy to be a bit shorter. That literally might have kept me in the trial and, in time, save my life.

And so, I’m back on schedule to give them my white blood cells tomorrow (and I’ll get them back, by the billions and trained to kill my cancer) around my birthday (mid September).

Thank you all – and God bless you each and every one!”

July 23 Update from Matt

Cancer & Life Update:

Hello everybody! I hope this note finds you all in good spirits and happy. A lot has changed since the last time I wrote. I’m in remarkably good health and good spirits all things considering.

Since last I wrote a “cancer update”, I was admitted to the hospital and I had a pretty close call. As you know left lung was basically non functioning. I was only getting air in the top third of the left lung and I was on oxygen full time. I was REALLY struggling. I could barely lay down without losing my breath. Laying on my back for radiation with a “Hannibal Lecter” mask from the top of my head to my chest (snapped tight to the table) was a nightmare. It was really a dark time. Then, to make matters worse, my right lung filled up with 2.5 liters of fluid. I literally was not able to breathe.

I went into the doctor when, WHILE on oxygen and sedative, I was panicking because I could not get enough air. They admitted me to the hospital (which the Sarah Canon institute is a part of). I was there for seven days while they were figuring out what to do. It was one of the harder times of my life. I had things I wanted to say, particularly to my boys and to Tajci, but I literally could not speak because I could barely breathe. I thought I was going to die. The thought didn’t scare me … it was just part of the journey of life. Although I never really felt “close” to God (I CHOOSE to serve) I did picture Him with me and feel that comfort during the dark moments.

Tajci, never for a moment, had a single doubt I’d not only get through that trouble but she was ADAMANT that I’d beat cancer altogether. She never cracked. Never once. Tajci and my parents and sister MK took turns staying with me 24/7 and were a huge comfort to me. I also had a slew of friends and cousins come to visit which was really wonderful!

One of the advantages of being part of the research institute is that all the doctors who attended to me were INCREDIBLE. Most were research doctors at the top of their game. I felt like I was being treated by the all-star team, like Babe Ruth and Willie Mays were my doctors. They gave me several options and we made the decision to do surgery and glue the pleura (the “bag” all of our lungs are in) to my right lung to make it impossible to accumulate fluid there. (Part of the reason my left lung was damaged was because the pleural area kept filling with water and had to be drained eight times. That process and cancer caused a mass of scar tissue in the lung which damaged it.)

After a week in the hospital they did the surgery, and then I was recovering for another week. When they finally let me go, I was incredibly weak. I could barely walk from the car to my house. I had lost so much muscle and strength. I was down 65 pounds since February 14.

Since then, things have been getting considerably better on a daily basis. We’ve figured out my pain meds, which is super important, and I started riding the bike for exercise (which I posted about previously).

The first week I could only walk back and forth in front of my house – pushing to go to a 2nd and then third house before heading back to my chair. And then I worked up to struggling to walk around the block ONE TIME for about a week, and then all of a sudden something shifted. I felt it. I suddenly got stronger. All of a sudden I walked around the block twice, then two days later FOUR times. Then I started going to the rec center (because it’s murderously hot at 7 a.m. in Nashville), and for a week I walked for a mile on the treadmill each morning and went into the pool to walk (using my arms to do a modified walking breaststroke) in the afternoon. Yesterday and today I walked TWO miles on the treadmill in the morning (today I did the two miles in 45m). I’m also doing breathing exercises and exercises from physical therapy on a daily basis.

One piece of FANTASTIC news is that at the last doctor visit, they could hear air in the middle AND the bottom of my left lung for the first time since all of this started.

I think both prayers are working and chemo is working. I’ve had two rounds of chemo, and although I was MISERABLY sick for two days and then just weak for another two days after each round, that’s pretty easy compared to what a lot of people go through.

The best news of ALL of this is that I went into the research center to sign all the permissions for the “CAR T-Cell” trial, and I was shocked at how many people recognized me. It turns out that I’m one of 28 people ON THE EARTH that matched genetically for this particular trial. Rachael, the research person doing the paperwork, was visibly excited to see me and have me sign the papers. People in the Doctors office (staff and nurses) have come up to me and say, “You’re the one! You’re the one that matched!”

If you’re watching the news, CAR-T Cell is all over the news for all different kinds of cancers. They might have just cracked this code on how to kill cancer. For me personally, going from my first on oncologist telling me “This will end your life” to “We just don’t know, but we want to monitor you for the next 15 years at least” is INCREDIBLY good for my positivity (and already a positive fella).

Nuts and bolts:
They will take out “a bag” of my white blood cells in early August and then I’ll do another round of chemo. Then, in early September, they will admit me to the hospital (this trial is not without its dangers) and return “billions” of my own (replicated) cells which have been trained to hunt and kill my particular type of cancer. And we’ll see what happens!

Although health-wise I couldn’t be more upbeat, we are in for a long haul. All of my plans and goals to build a successful business and support my family are off for now. My job is to heal and I am grateful for the support that has already been shown to us.

Tajci is pulling her weight, but our families (and our growing boys’) needs are great…

Please keep supporting us through:
Hiring Stormlight (my video production/marketing company):
www.StormlightPictures.com

Donate on GoFundMe:
https://www.gofundme.com/caring-for-the-camerons

Booking Tajci:
http://wakingupinamerica.net/speaking/

Donate to “Sons of Tumbleweed (that’s me) College Fund”:
http://tumbleweeds.info/index.htm
I am starting to work a little bit, but I’m taking it slow and easy. So if you have a story you need told, I would be happy to help (and it is SO GOOD for me mentally and emotionally to work and tell stories). And don’t worry, if I get sicker again and am unable to personally to do the job my partners are incredibly talented and supportive (and brilliant at our work). Finally, DON’T FORGET to book Tajci for Christmas! You would giving your community a huge blessing.

Matthew “tmblwd” Cameron

PS: Some people have asked if they can just send a check or gift card to us directly … the simple answer is … yup 🙂
Drop me a line and I’ll send you our address!
matthewshanecameron@gmail.com
Or drop me a line to say howdy – or remind me where we met – or a funny story from our travels … I’d love that!!!

2nd Tolton Novena to Include Pilgrimage

A second novena to Servant of God, Father Augustine Tolton will be said for a miraculous cure of Matt Cameron.  The novena will go from July 1st to 9th, and culminate in a mini-pilgrimage to follow in “Father Gus'” footsteps.

July 9th is the 120th Anniversary of Tolton’s death.  He passed away of heat stroke in Chicago at the age of only 43.

A public facebook event is linked here. Click GOING if you can say all nine days.

The actual text of the prayer is here.

If you would like to meet me near Hannibal, Missouri on the afternoon of July 7th or 8th for the pilgrimage, please email me at chrisfoley@yahoo.com.   I can give you a mini tour of the places Father Tolton lived and worked in Missouri and across the river in Illinois, where I will visit his grave.  We can pray along the way for Matt’s miracle!

There is an outside chance Matt himself will be joining me if he is feeling well enough to travel!

You can find out more about Matt and his battle with Stage IV Non-Smokers Lung Cancer, by going to this blog home. 

Matt has decided to entrust his miracle to Father Gus, who also needs to have a miracle attributed to him in order for his Sainthood to be declared by the Catholic Church.  Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago, who is the postulator for Tolton’s canonization cause in Rome, joined us during our first novena.  The bishop also visited Matt recently at the hospital to bless him and pray to Father Gus together.

 

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