Family touched by cancer wants to give back
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – When Matt Sellers, 39, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in May last year, recovery required countless blood transfusions along with the other standard forms of treatment including chemotherapy.
To give back for all the transfusions that Matt received during treatment, the family will be holding a blood drive from 3-7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Bethel Presbyterian in Cornelius.
“I know the Red Cross is always in need, because there are times where Matt would have to wait a couple days to even get blood that was his type,” said Judie Sellers, Matt’s wife. “So, I just wanted to give back as much as I could. Financially, there’s not much we could do, but I could definitely organize a blood drive.”
According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. One pint of donated blood can save up to three lives; meaning more than 43,000 blood donations are needed every day.
Cornelius Fire Chief Jim Barbee has known Matt from church since he was 10 years old.
“He’s a great guy and I hate for it to happen to him,” Barbee said.
Matt had worked with the Cornelius Volunteer Fire Department as a junior member since he was 16 years old. When he turned 18, Matt became a senior member. He is a fire department captain and a Concord police officer.
Matt underwent chemo 12 times and received multiple blood transfusions, sometimes receiving two to four units a week.
Judie said Matt’s chemotherapy is unique, because he had to be in the hospital all day for seven days, while being treated. It was difficult for her to be away from home and work full-time while taking care of a child and two dogs. Judie was forced to quit her job because of the stress on her and the family.
At one point in Matt’s battle, he went into respiratory failure for four days. The doctor told Judie there was no way he’d be able to breathe on his own if taken off the breathing machine. The family believed otherwise.
Matt is in remission from the form of cancer known as Subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma. He suffers from a rare blood disorder known as treatment-induced Myelodysplastic Syndrome, the same suffered by news anchor Robin Roberts.
His treatment has been put on hold, because his blood counts are recovering right now and hasn’t needed a transfusion in seven weeks.
“Our faith has gotten us through it and kept us sane,” Judie said. “It’s been a long journey.”