Matt Zechmann is a client near and dear to our hearts. Last year we were an official sponsor of his 2nd annual Desmoid Dash to raise money for the Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation, but this year we want to help make the event an even bigger success. PSG will make a donation to the Desmoid Dash each time we close a file! Help Matt find a cure!
— Matt's Story —
Matt’s story began at the young age of 25 when Matt started experiencing symptoms commonly found in those with acid reflux and GERD. Matt’s condition was misdiagnosed by multiple doctors, while an intra-abdominal tumor was growing, eventually blocking off his duodenum and making it nearly impossible to digest food. After more than 9 months of misdiagnoses, a doctor discovered a desmoid tumor growing in Matt’s abdomen. Matt underwent two surgeries at the Mayo Clinic and the tumor was successfully resected. Following his recovery, Matt returned to a normal life in Chicago, where he went back to his corporate job and got back into cooking and competing in national BBQ competitions.
As is the case with many desmoid tumors, Matt’s desmoid recurred less than one year later in 2011. Since there are no consistent treatments or cures, Matt attempted four different lines of chemotherapy over the course of two-and-a-half years. Unfortunately, the tumor kept growing, blocking his duodenum again and wrapping itself around one of our most vital organs, the superior-mesenteric artery.
In August 2013, Matt’s tumor became infected and required him to undergo another major surgery called a Whipple Procedure in October of 2013. During the thirteen-hour surgery, his doctors removed a football-sized desmoid tumor along with the head and neck of his pancreas, duodenum, jejunum, SMV, distal bile duct and gallbladder. His doctors also performed a right hemicolectomy, ileal resection and intraoperative radiation therapy. Unfortunately, the worst wasn’t over as Matt endured multiple life threatening complications, trips to the ICU and near-death encounters over the course of his fifty-eight-day hospitalization at Mayo Clinic. Prayers were heavy as Matt fought through a few near death complications, and he made it out of the hospital just in time for Christmas and a surprise 30th birthday thrown by his family and friends!
Matt went into surgery in the fall of 2013 at a healthy weight of 190 lbs. and by the spring of 2014, he weighed only 127 lbs. This surgery not only greatly impacted his weight, but it has also impacted his everyday life, limiting his activities and diet. Not only that, but Matt still lives with the fear that he will have another recurrence. His doctors have told him the he will be unable to endure another surgery if the tumor recurs. Since none of the standard chemotherapies were effective for Matt, his only hope is to find a more effective treatment or, better yet, a cure for desmoids.
Desperate for answers and short on hope, Matt's sister and best friend, Nicole, along with Matt and Nicole’s close friends, started an annual 5K race to raise awareness and funding for research through the Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation (DTRF). "We've received hope, love and support from DTRF and the friends we've met along this journey," says Nicole. "We wanted to find a way to give back to this organization, so we started the Desmoid Dash to raise money for research and to help us find a cure for this rare cancer." Matt and Nicole are in awe by the support they've received from family and friends, in addition to the dedication from their amazing friends who joined them on the Desmoid Dash committee. "You're only as strong as the people you surround yourself with, and luckily, I have the best family and friends a guy could ask for. This event is a shining example of the outstanding support I've received. It gives me hope that we will find a cure for desmoid tumors." Matt and Nicole will be dashing for desmoids until a cure is found.
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Listing information last updated on January 19th, 2020 at 7:20pm CST.