doctor holding blue cancer ribbon

Dad-to-Be Dies of ‘Extraordinarily Rare’ Cancer 3 Weeks After First ER Visit

Sometimes life just isn’t fair. This story from People is a prime example of that. This 30-year-old, soon-to-be-dad died of an extremely rare cancer only three weeks after his first ER visit. Get your tissues ready, this story is quite emotional.

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Soon-To-Be-Dad Dies of Rare Cancer

Matthew and Gracie Robertson met in 2018 on the dating app Bumble. Gracie wasn’t interested much in using the app, but her friend wanted her to try and even did the swiping for her. It was her friend who swiped right on Matthew. Only a week prior, Matthew had moved from Nebraska to Long Island, New York because of a new job opportunity. They ended up in each other’s radius because Gracie was visiting her friend who lived on Long Island. It was all by fate.

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“It happened super fast and super naturally,” she told People. “We decided to meet up and get coffee a few days after talking and then after that first coffee date, we had our second date and then our third date. It was kind of like, ‘This is it.'” (1)

The couple got engaged in November 2020 and married in September 2021. Shortly after getting married, they found out that they were going to be parents. They were overjoyed. 

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A Short-Lived Joy

As their baby’s due date got closer and closer, Matthew started saying that he wasn’t feeling quite right. His back was hurting all the time and he was constantly tired. They were all symptoms, however, that they explained away easily. He was spending a lot of time building baby furniture, and they also were still going on a fair number of trips. All of these were viable reasons for why he was experiencing what he was.

He went to the doctor for a check-up where they did some blood work. The results showed a somewhat elevated white blood cell count as well as liver enzymes. The doctor didn’t seem overly concerned, but suggested getting another sample. The redraw showed even higher counts, however, the doctor still didn’t seem overly concerned. He told them that if Matthew started feeling sick or had a fever, to go to the emergency room.

After a few days of night sweats and continued fatigue, Matthew decided to go to the emergency room. At the hospital, the doctors did a CAT scan and an abdominal ultrasound. From what they saw, they said that they thought it might be cancer. He had several tests done to figure out what kind of cancer it might be. Matthew was feeling terrible, so Gracie suggested they find out the sex of the baby to cheer him up. That’s when they found out they were having a little girl.

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A Girl Dad

Gracie says that Matthew was super excited to be a dad. When people asked him if he was hoping it was a girl or a boy, Gracie says that Matthew always said “60% I want a girl, 40% I want a boy”. She knew, however, that he really wanted to be a girl dad. When they discovered they were to have a girl, Matthew was over the moon. Unfortunately, that joy was quickly overshadowed as his condition continued to deteriorate.

Read: Mom told she has terminal cancer in the middle of her C-section as doctor cries

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Epithelioid Angiosarcoma

When Matthew was unable to eat or drink, Gracie decided to rush him back to the ER. It was a tense first night. The doctors weren’t even sure if he would make it through that first night in the hospital.

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“When we got there, he was immediately rushed into the ICU for acute renal failure,” Gracie recalled. “They put him on a round of hemodialysis, which is just three or four hours of just heavy duty dialysis. Then they switched him to CRT dialysis, which is a continuous and slower method of dialysis.”

Finally, they received the results of his liver biopsy: A diagnosis of an extremely rare cancer, epithelioid angiosarcoma. According to PubMed, Epithelioid angiosarcoma is: a highly aggressive endothelial cell malignancy, most commonly arising in the deep soft tissues, but a variety of primary sites, including the adrenals, thyroid, skin, and bone, are encountered. (2)

It is extraordinarily rare and highly aggressive. This is particularly true when it is in the organs. 

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“Sarcoma means fleshy growth, and angio means blood vessels,” says Dr. Charles A. Forscher, MD, medical director of Cedars Sinai Los Angeles’ Sarcoma Program. “So an angiosarcoma is a malignant tumor, or cancer, that’s trying to be a blood vessel, but it’s malignant, so it’s not doing it right.”

A Life Cut Short

The doctors had Matthew hooked up to breathing tubes, which was the only thing really keeping him alive. The prognosis was not good – everyone knew that Matthew was not going to survive this. Knowing that the doctors gave Gracie the option to have him taken off of the breathing apparatus. Heartbroken, she knew that it was better than having him continue to suffer, so she agreed.

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“I was in bed laying with him as he took his last breath,” Gracie says. “I said, ‘Thank you so much for fighting so hard. All the doctors are so impressed with you. You put up a hell of a fight. You can relax now.’ I hope that comforted him.”

Gracie’s family set up a GoFundMe page to help Gracie and her new baby. Without her husband, finances would be a much greater challenge. Gracie says she is telling her story to encourage people to get regular checkups and when something is off, to look into it further. It could save a life.

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“I’m so grateful for my family support and the outpouring of love and support from family, friends and strangers,” Gracie told People. “It means so much. It’s hard in this moment because I just want him back, and there’s nothing that anybody can do or say that will take that pain away, but it’s nice knowing how much he impacted so many people’s lives.”

Keep Reading: Parents Sue Texas Hospital After 4-Year-Old is Given an Accidental Vasectomy

Sources

  1. Dad-to-Be Dies of ‘Extraordinarily Rare’ Cancer 3 Weeks After First ER Visit.” People. Brianne Tracy. June 22, 2022.
  2. Epithelioid angiosarcoma: a brief diagnostic review and differential diagnosis.” PubMed. Jesse Hart and Srinivas Mandavilli. February 2011.
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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