LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) – Cancer survivor Matt Hiznay can’t imagine a world without his daughter, six-month-old Thea. The Lakewood resident’s first and only child was born 12 years after a shocking diagnoses.
“It was very sore in my left neck and she thought she felt a muscle nod,” said Hiznay. “It turned out it was a lymph node that had been growing and I had this dry cough that I just couldn’t buck all summer long.”
It was in 2011, just after his first year of medical school, that Hiznay, a healthy 24-year-old non-smoker, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
And it was aggressive.
“Disbelief initially and I was at Cleveland Clinic so I knew it wasn’t wrong,” he said.
Matt was treated with several different drugs but sadly, his cancer would return three times. Still, early on in the battle, loved ones recommended Matt bank his sperm.
“I’ve had the traditional forms of chemo and those are absolutely known to affect your fertility,” he said.
Thanks to a clinical trial, Matt would go into remission. He married his wife Ally, a Cleveland Clinic pharmacist. Last year, they were able to use his banked sperm through IV.
Daughter Thea was born on May 20 of this year.
“You can’t make the choices you make today based on what’s going to happen in 10 years because there’s just no point,” said his wife Ally. “You don’t know what’s going to happen so in the moment we thought it would be great to have a baby and watching Matt be a dad has honestly been my favorite thing ever.”
Matt, now 36, works as a medical researcher in oncology. He takes his so-called “cancer pill” everyday and continues to go in for checkups every six months.
Matt is happy to enjoy a healthy life this holiday season, with his now family of three.
“So much to be grateful for this year and just excited to spend it with her and our own little family,” he said.
Five year survival rates for advanced lung cancer are less than 10%, but Matt currently has no evidence of the disease.
Ally threw him a 10-year survival anniversary two years ago and they look forward to moving into their new home in Brecksville early next year.