Matt Fitzner’s has been an integral part of the Chemo Pal Program at the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) for three and a half years
His dedication and compassion for Matthew, his Chemo Pal, has been a model for the program as a whole. The Pediatric Chemo Pal Mentor program for children and teens breaks through the isolation, chaos and loneliness of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments by providing trusted, dependable, and carefully matched mentors. This volunteer program’s purpose is to provide a supportive relationship, ensuring that each child maintains self-esteem and confidence throughout the emotionally isolating and physically difficult. The Chemo Pal volunteer provides support and guidance through dependable visits in the midst of the lonely battle against cancer. These mentors visit hospitals, clinics and homes to play games, take walks, read, do art projects or share hobbies.
Matthew not only has cancer but also has Downs Syndrome, making Matt’s commitment and devotion to Matthew even more crucial. They like to read together play games and just hang out. Matt became involved in the Chemo Pal program after a divorce and his own cancer diagnosis. He decided that he could either be bitter or positive and chose to take the positive route. Because of his age, he feared that he would not be able to have his own family and so decided that he would become a part of another family’s life. After becoming involved with the program he looked at things in a more positive light and he eventually met his now wife. He now has a two-year old daughter and two month old daughter whom he adores.
Matt is very thankful to have had the opportunity to become so closely involved in Matthew’s life and appreciates the connection that he has with the family. Without Matt, Matthew’s hospital visits would be more difficult, and we are willing to bet that these two have had an equal impact on each other: both have changed the others life for the better.