Here are some words I wrote recently. It's my story so far and why I'm fundraising through the Oktoberfest Southampton event I'm involved with which is taking part in Guildhall Square, Southampton from Friday 25th October to Saturday 26th October 2019.
I wanted to send my absolute heartfelt thanks to you all. I've been totally overwhelmed by the huge amount of love that's come across from everyone. I'm humbled and so grateful to everyone.
I've had a few weeks letting everything sink in and going through everything with my amazing family and close friends, so you all know what's going on, just so I can be truly honest, and move forward in the strong, determined, focussed and positive way I'm doing daily, getting back as much as I can to the Matt that annoys everyone :)
So here it is.
A few weeks ago, I had a couple of big meetings with my amazing consultants.
The first was with my surgeons. I had awake open brain surgery which went really well - I really do have some stories to tell about that!! The staples are now out and lots of healing has already happened. I've a big fat head (no change there then!) and one hell of a scar in the shape of a C (interpret that as you will!!), but you should have seen the other guy!! It's now a physical part of my journey. Thank goodness I'm blessed with such good looks :)
I’m on a whole range of drugs for seizures and other things as my left arm is having a few issues, but am working on that and every day it is getting better. That's a side effect of the surgery. Fingers crossed and thankfully I can do that, it'll get better over time with the numerous things I'm doing daily.
I’ve now a few more weeks or so of simply leaving my head to heal before the next stage.
I'm now back to being independent after a few weeks of having to have someone here with me, who have been my incredible family. I've a great local support network and lots of visitors which is fantastic :) Just in case something does happen.
So then I met with the oncologists, and this is where it gets a little sad, but before anything else, know that I’m in a really good place at the moment - strong, determined, focussed and positive :)
So I've an aggressive grade 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme (GMB) - it’s brain cancer. Without 100% successful treatment or maybe alternative therapies in the future or massive progress in potential cancer treatment, I’m always going to have it, and it's now part of my life. There's the risk that tumours will come back as well as loads of other things so I may have to go through the same process again that has just happened, but I’ve done it once and comfortable with doing it again.
I've had my head mask made ready for the radiotherapy and then in early November I start 6 weeks of intensive radiotherapy - 5 days a week for about an hour for 6 weeks. I have scans on each Friday to see the progress. I finish just before Christmas :)
At the same time, they also start me on chemotherapy tablets so have a two pronged approach. There’ll be tiredness, sickness, good days and bad days. I have an idea based upon their experience of others but don't know the full extent of what the side effects will be, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Following that I then have 6 months of more intensive chemotherapy treatment.
I’m concentrating on the period up to then, and whatever curve balls may happen after that, will be dealt with then.
So, I’m now slowly starting back getting my brain ticking and getting back to a bit of normality before November, when I’ll be a little slower, so as much as things will take me a little longer, I will be doing things, getting out there, bugging everyone and doing what I truly love to do - work on my businesses. My family is the most important thing and I'll be spending loads of time with them.
One of the things I'm doing is Oktoberfest Southampton which is now in its third year and virtually sold out!! 5000 people over 3 sessions... surely I can do something with that?
While I was in hospital, each day I was treated and supported by an absolutely incredible team of consultants, fellows, surgeons, registrars, specialist nurses, nurses, radio therapists, occupational therapists, physios, so many others right through to all the incredible volunteers. There are so so many incredible people involved.
Each day I walked past the Children's Cancer Unit and saw so many incredible inspirational children going through so much. Keeping my emotions together was tough. Every time I saw them I thought, "anything could happen to be if it meant these kids didn't have to go through this treatment. Anything."
I noticed one thing. A simple smile, or silly face cheered them up. They walked on smiling. That's why we do Oktoberfest Southampton, for people to have a good time and smile and enjoy themselves.
That got me thinking. What can I do to help? I can smile, joke, make silly faces which will make a few seconds for them better, but what can I do to help?
That's when the Oktoberfest Southampton team received an email from Heidi Rehman, Wessex Cancer Trust's Community Engagement Manager for Hampshire asking for some support. The answer was immediately yes from me, Gary and Pete, the organisers of Oktoberfest Southampton.
So here we are, and this is what we are doing - raising money for Wessex Cancer Trust.
This is just one of the things I'm going to be doing. I've huge plans and a huge financial target to hit, that with everyones support, I will meet for numerous charities over the coming few years.
Please feel free to share everything you see from me to aid in this fundraising. I will be sharing stories over the coming months.
So that's my life now and will be for a long time. No sadness as it is what it is. Lots of emotions yes, but lots of happiness. I’m in a really good place right now, and that's how I’m going to continue for a long time to come :)
YOU ARE ALL amazing. Thank you so much for everything - I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart, and I can't wait to see you all.
Lots of love,