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“I was kind of surprised, but I was prepared, I guess. I’m not one that dwells on negative things. I was kind of like ‘Okay, a bump in the road.’ But it’s nothing that I couldn’t handle.”
Not something you would expect from an eighteen-year-old facing a stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, but Matt Cohen of Oak Ridge, NC was right. After four rounds of chemotherapy, Matt is already in remission. He has one more round of chemo to go, but the end is in sight as he prepares to attend UNC-Charlotte for the spring semester, mere months after his diagnosis.
Matt’s successful response is thanks to an intensive chemotherapy regimen, including a new clinical trial drug called Brentuximab, but also his light-hearted attitude. While he’s eager to enter into the responsibilities of college life and leave cancer treatment behind, he can find the bright side in his unexpected free time: “Basically these days I just kind of wake up and I’m like ‘Wow, another day that I don’t have anything to take care of.’ I’m just gonna chill. I can stay in my pajamas.”
But there have been some truly difficult periods for Matt. He, like many cancer patients, was forced to learn who in his life was truly there for him. And then there were a few weeks when he endured incredibly severe pain following his treatment.
“It literally felt like my entire insides were being mauled by a bear. It was terrible, I was screaming.”
But despite these hardships, Matt’s future looks bright as he moves towards college. He has always been both athletically and musically talented: he competed in power tumbling and trampoline since childhood, including winning the Junior Olympic National Power Tumbling competition when he was twelve. Nowadays he finds creative fulfillment in playing guitar, piano, and making music digitally, and he’s considering a major in mechanical engineering.
Cancer was indeed nothing he couldn’t handle.