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Season of Hope: Cancer patient inspires others

IB father uses YouTube to spread message of hope
Posted at 11:55 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 13:27:33-05

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) - Matt Henry, a father of six and avid surfer, says he's always had a positive attitude.

"It's partly just who I am," he says. "Before getting sick, I was so happy. I mean, if I were a puppy, I'd be wagging my tail all day long."

The sickness he's referring to is an inoperable brain tumor, diagnosed four years ago. It affected his mood and personality. But it never affected his spirit.

"I think I had an attitude of like, this isn't gonna stop me," Henry says. "I've got six kids and a whole life to live. This is not enough to stop me."

After surgery to remove part of the tumor, Henry learned to manage his symptoms. Doctors told him his tumor was growing slowly, giving him time. He decided to use that time to live his best life.

"I called it bucket list living," he says, and he shared his adventures with his family on his YouTube page. He also uses the hashtags #StayStoked and #InoperableMeetsUnstoppable on social media.

Now he's sharing something new. Henry is part of a worldwide clinical trial for a new drug called Vorasinedib. A form of it has FDA Approval for treatment of some conditions of Leukemia.

The study will see if a different version can help slow brain tumors' growth with a specific type of mutation, which Henry's has.

"If this trial works and then it's gonna help a lot of people, so I'd love to pave the way," he says.

UC San Diego's Moores Cancer Center is one of the clinics taking part in the trial. Director of Neuro-Oncology Dr. David Piccioni says this new drug can be a way to delay harsher forms of treatment like chemotherapy or radiation.

"The idea behind the trial was trying to come up with something that might sort of kick the can down the road," says Dr. Piccioni. "It's a slow-growing tumor. But it is growing, and it is something (Matt) wants to do something about. And that's sort of the point of this trial."

As he's going through the trial, Henry is posting videos about it. He peppers them with his sense of humor and hope. It's his way of showing that if he can keep a positive attitude through this, the rest of us can persevere through our challenges as well.

"I'm terminal. But the truth is, we're all terminal. I mean, life is a terminal disease. So, make it a big point to make today matter, make today count, and leave others better than you found them."

Matt's family has a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical and other costs.