As challenging as 2020 has been, I could not have anticipated writing these words. Our dear friend since childhood, Matt Schumacher, has been diagnosed with cancer. As you can imagine this has come as quite a shock. Matt is 41 years young and lives life for his two beautiful children—Dominic (9) and Avery (7).
Matt began having symptoms a few months ago and after multiple trips to doctors, the Emergency Room and a few incorrect diagnoses, the cause of Matt’s pain finally had a name—Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Specifically, a rare form called Acinar Cell Carcinoma. Matt has been handling this the way Matt handles all tragedies: with pragmatism, courage and a sense of humor. For those of you who know Matt, I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise. In fact, that is something I have always admired about Matt—his ability to be resilient in the face of adversity.
Matt gets his strength of character and positive outlook from his mother, who he sadly lost to a horrible neurodegenerative disease called Huntington’s. He lost his brother as a result of the same disease, and not long after that cancer took his father. Despite these tragedies, Matt lives every day with optimism and a smile on his face. He is facing this newest challenge with the same positivity. But it is hard. It will take all of his energy to fight this disease and stay present for his children.
Matt is under the care of an oncologist here in Fort Myers as well as one at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. He began his chemotherapy treatment in November 2020. He has already experienced a decrease in the pain, giving him hope that the chemo is shrinking the tumor. We have full confidence that his doctors are giving him the most aggressive treatment possible to get the cancer under control.
Matt is the co-owner and manager of a small business (Pizza Fusion in Fort Myers) and does not have health insurance. He has been fortunate enough to receive some aid from the drug company to pay for a portion of his chemotherapy drugs, but there will be many, many more treatment expenses. Because of the toll the cancer and chemotherapy are taking on his body, as well as the current COVID risks, he has had to step away from management of the restaurant, which has severely impacted his income.
I have known Matt since we were kids. My brother, Doug, is his best friend and he is “Uncle Matt” to my kids. Growing up, we spent a lot of time with Matt, his sister Michele and his brother Mike. We lived around the corner from the Schumacher Family and probably spent more time at their house than ours. Family is what Matt is all about. We are doing everything we can to support him and we’re reaching out to others who may also want to help.
So friends, strangers, pizza lovers, Little League champions and Scrabble aficionados (he is scary good at Scrabble)—as Matt faces this monster called cancer, let’s support him by easing his financial worries so he can focus on fighting this disease and spending time with his children, friends and family.
Thank you for any assistance you are able to provide!
- Amber Evans
- Alexander Pearson
- Tia Melot
- Scott Parker
Organizer and beneficiary
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