Everyday Heroes – Cancer Survivor Story: Matthew Toomey

Name: Matthew Toomey

Age: 25

School/Career: After undergoing treatment and spending a majority of my time in the hospital, I became extremely interested in health and science. I attended UW-Parkside for 3 years, majoring in Applied Health Sciences /chemistry. After 3 years, I had a change of heart and pursued a career in the golf industry. I went to a Golf Academy in San Diego for 16 months and have now been a golf instructor / golf coach at GOLFTEC for a year.

Interesting Fact: One of my goals in life is to attend a MLB and NFL game at every single stadium.

How were you impacted by cancer? I was diagnosed with Ewings’ Sarcoma a week after my high school graduation and a month before my 18th birthday. I underwent chemotherapy for nearly a year, had 3 surgeries, and 6 weeks of radiation therapy. I am currently a 6 ½ year survivor.

How did you cope?: I was, and still am, very open about what was happening. All of my friends knew about it, but I was the only one who wasn’t sad. I was always looking at the positive, which I believe allowed me to get through a year of treatment with only a few setbacks. I took the diagnosis in stride and continued living a normal life. I very rarely spent time at home. I was always out and about doing something. Living life like a normal 18 year-old kid helped me get through treatment.

What support did you receive? Just talking to friends and family, and One Step at a Time camp (a camp for children of all ages that had/have cancer); As I said earlier, I opened up to anyone and everyone that was curious about my situation. It helped me clear my mind and it also let my friends understand what was going on.

Advice to someone currently battling cancer?

o Do everything you can to continue doing what makes you happy. Playing sports, being around friends, and not feeling restricted helped me remain positive at a low time.

o Do NOT do research online without talking to your doctors first; every situation is unique, so information you read may not apply to your situation; it typically does more harm than good.

o Be prepared for emergency hospital visits; a backpack with clean clothes, games, puzzles, movies, etc. saves you a lot of time and hassle!

o Keep your mind occupied and stay active! Fresh air is never a bad thing!

o Try to push yourself! You may not feel like moving at all, but do your best to get up and stay active! Whether it’s getting up to get a glass of water or going for a walk outside, push yourself!

o If you’re a student or child and going through treatment, be sure to look into Make-A-Wish (under 18 years of age) and cancer scholarships. Make-A-Wish is a wonderful organization that will give you something to look forward to at a low time. My personal wish was to go to Hawaii. Whenever I felt sad about my situation, I thought about Hawaii and it instantly changed my mood. As for scholarships, there are tons available for survivors and patients. Don’t be afraid to apply for them!


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