“ “You got this!” – anyone can beat something. It just takes the right mindset to do so.
Matt Cotcher is the mohawked mAss Kicker from Texas! Matt has translated his passion for writing and blogging into a unique campaign for brain tumor awareness,”Hawktober”. Hawktober takes place in October and is a fun way for EVERYBODY to show his or her support for brain tumor awareness. He is also very active with LiveSTRONG in Austin, Texas. We were very lucky to catch up with Matt!
mK: Thanks for doing this Matt! What/ when was your diagnosis? How did you find out about your diagnosis?
MC: I received my diagnosis in April 2007. An ependymoma wrapped around my brain stem that was about the size of a racquetball.
mK: What were your symptoms?
MC: My biggest & most persistent symptom was chronic headaches. With added hindsight, there were others, but pounding headaches were the biggie.
mK: Why did you start Hawktober?
MC: I want people to know that anyone at anytime can get a surprise diagnosis and overcome it. I also think there’s value in putting my post-surgical deficits in the public eye to help others understand that the side effects of treatment can be just as devastating as the disease.
mK: Who are your heroes? Who is your “mohawk idol?”
MC: Anyone that will get an obnoxious haircut in the name of brain tumor awareness is a hero in my book!
mK: Yeah, Brain Tumor Thrivers can’t be afraid to stick out! What motivates you?
MC: I motivate myself! HA! No, seriously…the opportunity to use my condition as a learning opportunity for others is a huge motivation for me. If I can help just one person that was in the same situation I was…
mK: When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?
MC: Honestly – I rewrote what “normal” feels like for myself. There are people that will line up to tell you that I wasn’t normal before surgery!
mK: What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
MC: People that judge others without knowing what kind of battles they’re facing really frustrate me. If you want to get technical, removing the tumor from my brain stem really messed up my tear ducts…but in the spirit of the question, let’s just cry happy tears and leave it at that!
What makes me laugh? I like subtle humor much more than slapstick. For a genuine laugh, I’d rather find humor in life’s unintended moments than rely on the TV.
mK: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
MC: Getting to participate in my plan of care is fascinating to me. I’ve learned more about biology, anatomy & medicine than most med students!
mK: What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor? How did you overcome it?
MC: Every day is a challenge when you have physical & speech deficits! There are some individual things like speaking to a large group or running a marathon that stand out, but it’s the daily challenges that never go away.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
MC: Other than live sporting events, I don’t watch much TV. I will make time for So You Think You Can Dance though!
I also love dessert, but I don’t feel any guilt when I eat a bowl of ice cream!
mK: Hee hee yeah, nothing wrong with that! What are your top three sports of all time?
mK: What do you like to do in your spare time?
MC: What is this “spare time” of which you speak?!?
mK: HAHAHA! What are you up to now?
MC: Hawktober is my full-time job. Trying to elevate brain tumor awareness and connect with current patients & survivors is a great way to spend time. I ran two marathons this year to prove to myself, patients & survivors that what we get from overcoming a challenge is far greater than the challenge itself.
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
MC: “You got this!” – anyone can beat something. It just takes the right mindset to do so.
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
MC: I love animals. I obsessed over otters & raccoons as a child and never really outgrew it.
mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
MC: I’m so proud of you…for everything you go through, have been through and are yet to face.
Matt Cotcher: Sports fanatic, ice cream addict, raccoon/otter fan club president, and enthusiastic brain tumor advocate! Thanks for letting us interview you! Check out Hawktober.com when you get the chance! ANYONE can participate! Mohawks represent the attitude brain tumor patients and their supporters need to fight these diseases. They are hard to ignore!