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"What Can I Do With My New Normal?" Positivity and Gratitude Guide Matt Pond’s Life after Cancer

Matt Pond holding a guitar with his family
Matt Pond and his family

When Matt Pond’s brain tumor returned in 2007, his doctors in Idaho told him there was nothing more they could do for him.

Matt’s family searched the country for any other treatment options. Matt’s brother found Randy Jensen, MD, at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). Dr. Jensen asked Matt to fly down to Salt Lake City right away to see him.

The doctors at HCI decided surgery was an option for Matt. They asked, “Can we do one more surgery? And then will you come see us every once in a while for the next 30 years?” Matt remembers he started to cry, then laughed and asked if they could make it 50 years.

A week later, Matt had life-saving surgery at HCI. But when he came out of surgery, his right side was paralyzed.

“For about a half hour, I felt sorry for myself,” Matt remembers. “I love playing the guitar. I love using power tools. Then I thought, wait a second. I am alive.”

At the University of Utah’s Rehabilitation Center, Matt relearned how to walk and speak. He learned to read and write again—this time with his left hand instead of his dominant right. 

“The greatest thing was to play my guitar,” he says. “Music was one of the first things that started coming back to me, even before I could read and write again.”

Matt taught himself to play guitar with one hand while he was getting chemotherapy in Rexburg, Idaho, after surgery. “I had a captive audience in the infusion room,” he jokes. His care team at HCI worked hand-in-hand with his doctors in Rexburg to provide excellent care close to home.

“Now I ask myself, what can I do with my new normal?” Matt says. “Can I use a saw? Can I tie a tie? I learned things I didn’t know I could do it until I got cancer.”

Eleven years later, Matt is cancer-free. Today, the father of five shares his story and music with hopes of inspiring others to remain strong through their own challenges.

Cancer touches all of us.