Meet Matt – HEADstrong Hero

In August, Matthew Moon visited his primary care physician after noticing lumps on his leg. A 35 year old father of three that lives in North Carolina, Moon was referred to a surgeon who performed a punch biopsy in September. Following the biopsy, doctors told Moon that there was not enough tissue for a definitive diagnosis. Still seeking answers, he had another surgery to remove an entire nodule for testing at Johns Hopkins. 

Following that procedure, he spent time in the hospital after incurring a wound infection and then received a diagnosis of T-Cell Lymphoma from Johns Hopkins.

“The hardest thing I had to do was tell my wife,” Moon said. “She is my best friend and I knew she would be devastated. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my  life because we didn’t know anything about it.”

After originally being told that he didn’t need to undergo chemotherapy unless the cancer progressed, but suffering from excessive swelling in his right leg, Moon still traveled to Houston, Texas to get a second opinion at MD Anderson Cancer. There, on December 14th, he was officially diagnosed with Stage 4 Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma, also known as PTCL-NOS.

A rare form of T-Cell Lymphoma, most cases of PTCL-NOS are typically found in patients around 60 years of age or older. For Moon, his age and the fact that he was diagnosed before it metastasized to his blood, organs, or lymph nodes have doctors optimistic  for a very high chance of remission and survival. 

“They said that I had the potential to have a normal, healthy life if my body responds to the chemotherapy treatments as they hoped,” he said “They also stated that they only see roughly 10 people a year with this type of diagnosis, which was scary to hear.” 

After the first day of appointments at MD Anderson, Moon spoke with a  stem cell transplant physician, who discussed all the options he has for stem cell transplants, something that would be a necessity for him to have a chance at survival and beating the cancer. Without a transplant, the cancer would only keep coming back until all treatments options were exhausted, which is a last-resort option.

While in Texas, Moon underwent a bone marrow biopsy, which confirmed that he did not have PTCL-NOS in his bone marrow, a huge win for his treatment plans. 

For Moon, and his family, the swiftness that everything has happened  has been jarring, but they have set forth a plan for treatment that will give him the best opportunity for a long and healthy life. Currently, he is undergoing a second round of chemotherapy treatments in North Carolina and will go back to Texas every 6-8 weeks for a follow up. Once his PTCL-NOS is in remission he will undergo ‘super chemo’ and stem cell transplants. 

“I can’t stress enough to keep advocating for your health if you feel something is wrong,” Moon said. “Cancer doesn’t judge, it comes after all of us from a child to an elder. We’re forever grateful for what HEADstrong has done for us as well as many others before and after us! I will beat this and move on to making many, many more memories with my family but I will forever remember the generosity you have shown to my family.”