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Matt Cameron has been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Since Matt is a man who has spent his life giving to others, his traveling buddies – The Tumbleweeds – are trying to give back to him in his time of need. We’ve set up the Sons of Tumbleweed College Fund to raise money so Matt’s three sons can afford college no matter what happens to their well-traveled dad. Please read on… and thank you for your generosity!

The Dilemma

Matt Cameron was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Smokers Lung Cancer at the age of 46 in 2017. His doctors told him that he would not survive the disease, although new therapies may be able to keep him alive – and hopefully active – for several years. Matt has accepted the diagnosis with his usual aplomb and with a big smile on his face. (See “The Dirty Bird” story below.) He has a great trust in God. As with all cancer, there is always an element of unpredictability. What Matt does NOT want to be unpredictable is the care of his beautiful wife Tatiana and his three sons.

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He has lived his life helping others, which is actually his true passion. Matt has always been especially interested in boosting artists who are trying to make a positive impact on society through their work. That was one of the things that led him into a meeting with his future wife Tatiana. A superstar vocalist in Yugoslavia, “Tajci” was a new and unknown immigrant to America when they started dating. As a team – both in marriage and in careers – Matt and Tajci were able to parlay their individual skills into a working business. While she composed, recorded and performed, Matt promoted, booked, and managed. Their work has always been God-centered, telling her story from secular pop star in a Communist country to a practicing Catholic in America, singing songs about faith, grace, and mercy. Like MOST musicians in America, their endeavors were anything but lucrative. Yet, Matt and Tatiana lovingly brought three sons into the world.

Now, with Matt’s life LITERALLY on the line, his thoughts naturally turn to his boys Dante (16), Evan (14) and Blais (11.) He wants them to have the opportunity to attend college without piling up massive debt. Unfortunately, cancer treatment and lost income from the disease will cut into the Camerons small savings immediately. Matt’s old adventuring buddies, The Tumbleweeds, have started a fund to put his sons through college. They are asking your help to put Matt’s mind (and savings account) at ease during this traumatic time.

The Sons

All three of Matt’s sons are talented and unique and they all have a penchant for the arts, like their parents. In the touch-and-go world of media, it is more important than ever that they be grounded with a solid college education to help them make their way practically in the world as they pursue their dreams.

Dante pic 5-3-17.pngMatt’s son Dante will graduate high school in 2018. He is a member of the Franklin High School swim team. He is a whiz at learning new computer programs, especially if they are art-related applications. He has a passion for film – maybe we’ll see Dante follow dad’s footsteps into movie production!

Contribute to Dante’s college fund

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Evan has picked up his mom’s passion for music, and plays a number of instruments in the award-winning Franklin Marching Band. It’s an all-encompassing and serious hobby for the class of 2020 high-schooler. He and his band-mates travel far and wide to compete… and they usually win!

Contribute to Evan’s college fund

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Even if you are only meeting Blais for the first time, you will be struck by his outgoing and artistic personality. At a young age, he is already very focused on his love of acting and drama. He’ll pick out his favorite movie and watch it over a dozen times to study the characters.

Contribute to Blais’ college fund

The 529 College Funds

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The funds the Tumbleweeds have set up for Matt’s kids are run by Fidelity, one of the most trusted names in investing. As 529 accounts, the money is reserved strictly for use for college education and grows tax free. Matt’s friend of more than 25 years, Andrew Youngblood is the custodian of the funds. Andrew works in Catholic education and will oversee the 529’s with his wife Chrissy, who is herself an investment fund manager.

The Tumbleweeds

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Anyone who knows Matt will tell you he is not a worrier… he is an adventurer.  Matt’s CB call name “Tumbleweed” was the origin of name for his group of young travelers. Matt and the other Tumbleweeds traveled on the cheap – for at least a month at a time – throughout America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa during the 1990’s. Matt credits those trips with setting the course for his life and considers them to be a pivotal part in his maturation into manhood.

Matt and Tumbleweeds’ co-founder Chris Foley – who met at Christendom College in Virginia – always liked the idea of passing the Tumbleweeds mantle onto their sons. Chris got the idea from his own dad’s cross-country trip in 1947, but has no children of his own. It is the fond hope of Chris and Tumbleweed Greg Bodoh, who conceived of the fund, that Matt’s boys will be able to finish college debt-free. Then, maybe Dante, Evan and Blais Cameron can scrape together a few hundred bucks, grab a backpack, and do some world traveling… just like their dad did!

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A Matt Cameron Parable

The other day when I was with Matt at the hospital, the nurse commented how sorry she was that Matt was having such a serious medical issue.  He just replied, “Life is beautiful.”  She agreed, but instead of sitting there in awkward silence, Matt instead launched into a parable:
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field. It was terrified, and feared it would freeze to death.  While it was lying there, a large bull came by and stood over it.  Now, the bird shivered in cold AND terror.  Suddenly, the bull dropped a huge load of dung on the poor little bird. The bird could not believe its terrible luck, and struggled against the oozing mass of waste.  Momentarily, though, the bird began to realize how warm the crap was.  The dung was actually thawing him out! He was going to live!  He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. The cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung and promptly dug him out… and ate him.

Matt Cameron’s life lesson
1) Not everything in life that craps on you is your enemy.
2) Not everything in life that gets you out of crap is your friend.

Needless to say, the nurse and I both laughed pretty hard!
-Chris Foley
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Matt in Yosemite – 1993

Here is a quick edit of some video we took in Yosemite on the inaugural Tumbleweeds journey in 1993.

(Sorry if there is a commercial on this.  We have to pay 10,000 Maniacs, who deserve it for being so apropos!)

Matt Health Update

From Matt’s Facebook Page on March 27:

Okay, this is complicated. The good news is that I tested positive for the EGFR genetic mutation. “Huh,” you might be asking yourself. “How is that good news?” Well let me tell you. I’ve learned a lot in the last cou

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1993: Matt in Louisiana on Tumbleweeds I

ple of weeks.

In the last five years or

so, there are certain drugs that target certain genetic problems in cancer that seem to work for years. In some cases, up to nine years (which is as long as the drug has been out). So this is not chemo. This is not radiation. This is not immunotherapy. This is a drug named Tarceva (http://www.tarceva.com/patient/) that targets (as I understand it) my PARTICULAR genetic mutation on a genetic molecular level. It’s equivalent to putting a cork in my “genes gone wild” cells, which have been spewing out a bazillion cells that are causing the tumors.

So I’ve been on the drug for two weeks. They tested me on Friday, looking for trouble (like my body’s not agreeing with this drug) but they found NO problems whatsoever. Everything seems to be hunkydory!

I’m not supposed to see results for a month (or two, or three). BUT, as you know, the cancer is in my spine, cracking the vertebrae. I went from not being able to pick up a fork and being in a LOT of pain to being able to dress myself and eat by myself and even sit in a chair without ANY pain (granted, I have to sit in a recliner because of my cracked vertebrae, but STILL — I’m SITTING!!!) So, our conclusion is that the cancer is moving off of the spine or taking the pressure off, but we don’t know for sure yet.

The good news is that this is LITERALLY a one-pill-a-day solution to Stage IV cancer — which is INSANE.

We really don’t know what to expect. And because the drug is new, no one knows what to expect. Everyone is being very cautious and the doctors in particular are saying, “We’re confident we can push this cancer back. But it’s going to continue to mutate.” The good news is that they can switch me to four different drugs, or any combination of the four. The doctor says they’ve even had good luck switching people BACK to the original drug as the cancer mutates and it STILL seems to be effective.

So that’s the nuts and bolts of the cancer situation as we know it at this moment. Me personally, I’m weaker than I’ve ever been. I’ve lost 34 pounds (and I’m not trying to lose weight). My pleural area gets drained about once a week, and they get out between 650 mL and 2 liters of fluid. When I start to fill up, I start having trouble breathing. During the day, I can control the natural panic that is associated with not being able to breathe. At night, it’s hard. The hardest are the moments between falling asleep and being asleep. I’ll have involuntary panic attacks. I’ll literally fall asleep and jerk awake hundreds of times in a row, literally with each breath. That tires me out. They just gave me anti-anxiety drugs, which I haven’t used yet, but just HAVING them there has helped me to calm down.

I think what I’ve learned is that it’s one thing to be brave in the daytime. It’s another when you’re alone at night and you can’t breathe. I’m grateful for Tajci because she sits with me for as long as it takes. It gives me a lot of respect for people that are struggling through these things, whether it be cancer or something else, alone. Because the fear is real. Even with faith. So maybe think of those people if you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Think of the person who’s afraid and alone and pray for them. For just a few minutes. Just be with them. Even if you don’t know who they are or they’re far away. And if you think of it, be with me too. I’ll be thinking of you!

PLEASE don’t be shy to reach out to us to put us to work! I’m happiest when I’m busy.

Matthew: http://stormlightpictures.com/
Tajci: www.idobelieve.com
www.wakinguprevolution.com

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

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