EDMOND — Matt Allen is locked in a life-or-death battle with brain cancer. Yet he's emerged as such an inspiration, the American Cancer Society uses him as a speaker.
His journey has been extraordinary as he marks an anniversary. Allen, 45, has for three years batted a cancerous brain tumor. For some, that might not seem like anything to celebrate, but it's special for Allen.
He was told in September 2009 he probably wouldn't live to see the next Christmas.
Fortunately, he proved the doctors wrong.
In summer 2009, Allen was living the American dream. He had a great job with a pharmacy company and was enjoying life as a family man. His marriage to his wife, Kelly, was nearing the 20-year mark, and the couple had been blessed with a daughter, Taylor, and a son, Christopher.
Then came the headache that wouldn't go away. Allen sought medical help, and before he knew it, he was waking up in a hospital bed. A brain tumor the size of his fist had been removed.
“I just can't believe you can have something that big in your head and not even know it,” he said.
That started a journey that has been long and difficult. At the same time, Allen's life has been enriched, he said. He's realized how blessed he's been with family, church and friends.
Allen has undergone four brain surgeries. Doctors warned him surgery might cause him to lose the use of his hand or leg. They were wrong about that, too.
“I could do handstands in here if I wanted to,” he said looking down the aisle of a local restaurant.
He drives and functions as well as most people. In fact, some could advance the theory he's getting more bang for his buck with life than most of us.
Yet the challenges continue. One of the obstacles occurred recently, and it was the most serious since Allen first got the news three years ago.
“For so long, I was just dealing with one tumor,” he said. “I had been blessed with just that.”
But the cancer spread. More tumors popped up on his brain. His vision was threatened. Over the summer, an aggressive form of radiation and treatment was ordered.
He got the results in September.
“They told me all of those were gone,” he said. “It's a good thing there wasn't a camera on me then. I did a happy dance that would have been embarrassing.”
Usually, he takes treatment every two weeks. But it hasn't had the effects on Allen that it does on many. He's active and vibrant.
Allen deals with his health by having conversations with God.
“I used to call it prayer, but it's really a conversation I have,” he said.