Cancer finds us wherever we are in our lives. Cancer found Matt in the midst of a successful career and among a large, happy family. In the fall of 2009, Matt developed a cough that he couldn’t shake. He didn’t look sick. He didn’t feel sick. So he went on with his life without giving it much thought. Then one morning in December, Matt began coughing up blood. Within hours, Matt and his wife, Melissa, were told that he had late stage lung cancer.
They were told that without treatment, he would have eight months to live. With treatment, he faced a five-year survival rate of less than five percent.
“…A lot of fear sets in. It’s the fear of people you’ve seen suffer and lose their life to this disease. Also the fear of the unknown. I wanted to know everything I could about my disease.”
Matt and Melissa immediately reached out to their family, and the work to find a promising treatment strategy began. After an exhaustive and frustrating search, they found a clinical trial for his form of cancer in Houston, Texas. Matt spent five months living with family members in Houston while undergoing extremely aggressive treatments. Melissa divided her time between Houston and Sioux Falls, where their five children remained. Over the course of those five months, they faced not only Matt’s cancer, but multiple life-threatening illnesses and side-effects related to the treatment itself.
“…the worst part of my cancer journey was the wait. Not the pain from the cancer and treatment, but the wait from the time of diagnosis to when I began treatments. Many other survivors I talk to share the same experience.”
The experimental treatment in Houston was successful, and in 2010 Matt’s cancer went into remission. Since then, he has had three recurrences, all of which have also been treated successfully.
Today, Matt is effectively controlling his cancer with Xalkori, a targeted ALK+ gene therapy, and currently has no evidence of disease. Matt lives an active life that includes running and cycling competitions, endurance sports, speaking engagements, and exploring the world with his family. He serves as a spiritual mentor and national cancer advocate through his work with Celebrate Community Church, LUNGevity Foundation, Imerman Angels, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, and LIVESTRONG. He has been featured on SiriusXM Doctor’s Radio, the cover of BizNOW magazine, CURE magazine, and numerous PSA print, radio, and television broadcasts.
Since his diagnosis, Matt has found strength in his faith and in his family. He has also found his mission with SURVIVEiT®.
Matt has a dream of a world free from the fear of cancer and is committed to using what he’s learned from his journey, as well as his 28-year career in engineering and business development, to develop a series of tools to help anyone affected by cancer. In July of 2013, Matt founded SURVIVEiT®, a non-profit organization with web-based tools and apps to help people find the very best options in cancer treatment, strengthen their faith, research their disease, rate and share their care experiences, and support each other every step of the way.
SURVIVEiT® was born out of the fear and frustration that Matt and his family experienced while they searched for a solution. They learned that cancer doesn’t slow down for us to find the best treatment options. It doesn’t wait for us to find our spiritual centers. Cancer finds us wherever we are in our lives.
With SURVIVEiT®, we can meet cancer with a plan. We can be ready. We can be fearless.
SURVIVEiT is a nonprofit web-based platform developed by survivors for cancer patients. At surviveit.org, anyone affected by cancer can locate the very best in treatment, view ratings and reviews of cancer centers posted by survivors, rate their own cancer care experiences, research their disease, strengthen their faith, and support each other every step of the way. Survivors helping patients.
Our vision is a world free from the fear of cancer.
Our mission is to provide hope, knowledge, and resources crucial to surviving cancer.
The best way to get through difficult times is to help others get through theirs.
The information and support patients need is out there. SURVIVEiT® guides patients and caregivers to accurate information quickly and easily. Because time matters.
Start wherever you are.
Each patient’s needs are unique. Whether patients are seeking spiritual guidance or strictly medical information, SURVIVEiT® will guide them through their cancer journey.
Not just waiting. Acting.
Not just hoping. Living.
Not just battling. Surviving.
We don’t have to lose any more days.
With your help, SURVIVEiT® can empower anyone affected by cancer. Help us create a world free from the fear of cancer.
Let’s start today.
To view the original post, see MattEllefson.com
For more information on joining the community or finding care,faith and resources, see SurviveIt.org
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