Interview with Matthew Newman: 39, father of three was diagnosed with an Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade 3. He shares his story with us and also talks about his book: ‘Starting At The Finish Line‘
How did you find out about your diagnosis?
I had been having brutal headaches since January 2013. I was in a car accident and the headaches began that night. They got worse and worse every day. Within a week I started losing all ability to sleep.
Two weeks later, I was giving a presentation when I felt a hot flash hit me. Slur and gurgle poured out of my mouth; I didn’t know where I was and what was going on; I saw myself standing outside my bo+dy telling me I was having a stroke. It lasted about 5-8 seconds, it felt like an eternity.
This happened about 11 times. After the 11th time, I went to the hospital. They told me it was a lesion causing all this; to be a lesion was a cut or bruise; they did multiple MRI’S/MRA’S that day.
At 3 am they needed to do one more. They wouldn’t let me walk to the MRI room, they made me get in a wheelchair. The nurse grabbed the clipboard on my chair and said Mr Newman, MRI MRA with contrast, we need to see how big your brain tumor is.
What Treatment Did You Have?
When my first round came, the oncologist told me to take Zofran to help with stomach and nausea. I told him I got this, don’t need it. I was put in my place very quickly of the realness and severity of chemo and radiation
I threw up for hours and realized what I had gotten into. Every day I would wake up, work out, and go get radiation.
I did my chemo at night. I would get tired and lethargic every day around 2, but I would own that day; It was mine, not cancers. When I needed to relax and lethargy would kick in, I would just go home and do it.
I didn’t let cancer or chemo dictate my life, I just gave it some adjustments. I lost hair, weight and all taste buds. I didn’t care. I was alive and present for my family. That’s all that mattered!
How are you doing now?
I have no real issues. I take no medication”. I’m a Warrior, and we are a family of Warriors. I now get MRI’s every 5 months to see if my Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade 3 has grown back. It went from 3 months to 4 to now 5.
What do you do now in your life?
I would write messages to friends, family and clients and share my perspective; I saw life differently; I understood living in the moment and appreciating the now. Writing became my catharsis. A catharsis to deal with the fear and anxiety I would push down deep into my belly.
Writing became my catharsis. I wrote my book for me. I never anticipated anyone would read it, nor did I care. One week after it came out it was #1 on Amazon in a variety of categories.
I started speaking to small rooms in the financial services community; Sharing my story and the need for financial planning in advance of the bad. Seeing life through a different lens and perspective change led to clarity for me. It started to get bigger by the week, and now I speak keynote all over the country to a variety of different industries.
I still work in Financial services as a RVP for Transamerica, but the speaking is my passion and love. It breeds connection to let others know they are not alone on their journey. We are a family of Warriors.
What motivates you?
My family – Other Warriors thank me for inspiring them, but they are the ones usually inspiring me
Who is your personal hero or are your heroes?
My father in law Larry who was battling pancreatic cancer while I was battling brain cancer; my parents; and most importantly my wife – she took on every challenge and just did what she had to do to be there for her family
What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
The most interesting thing I have ever done is to write my book. I had never written a book before, and had almost no idea what I was doing. I was most shocked at how well it worked out! Things happen for a reason.
The relationship I have with cancer will not end. It will forever be a part of my life’s journey, whether I like it or not. But I will use my journey with cancer to be better. I will use it to continue to think positively and eliminate negativity. Cancer will never crush my optimism or my strength, nor will it define my legacy.
What is the toughest challenge a survivor’s face?
Facing reality if they haven’t done the proper planning. It can cause resentment and regret that could be avoided. It’s not how much money you have, its how you focus on the fight at hand. Cancer may take us physically, but it will never take us spiritually. This is our journey, cancer is just along for the ride. WE OWN it!
What is next on your agenda?
We raise money for Head for the Cure; we used to run the Broad Street Run in Philly for fun, now we do it every year to beat brain cancer! I will continue to share, connect and let others know we are a family! A family of Warriors! Slowing down is not an option!
Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
- You control your legacy. You own that.
- Fight like a warrior, and your legacy will become legendary.
Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know?
I like this one. I am an open book, I share all in my memoir, social media, and my messages; that being said, I take on all challenges to test myself, but I am afraid of heights. One time we were climbing the Sydney Bridge in Australia and I turned around and walked off!
Conclusion: Thank you, Matthew, for sharing your story with us. It is fantastic you are feeling so well. even more fantastic that you are not taking any medication. What a relief for you and your family. May your Anaplastic Astrocytoma stays as it is for many many many years.
You Can Buy Matthews Book: ‘Starting At The Finish Line‘
Find Matthew online here: