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):
Donate on GoFundMe:
Donate to “Sons of Tumbleweed (that’s me) College Fund”:
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!
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!!!