CARMEL- An avid track and cross and country runner is sidelined by cancer, but biking gave Matt Cooper an escape.
Cooper has been active all his life. “My parents let me try a whole bunch of sports like swimming, soccer, basketball and football,” said Cooper. Everything changed for him though near the end of his junior year at Carmel High School. “I was diagnosed on February 16th of 2016 with AML and ALL leukemia.”
Cooper had Acute leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. The cancer also had a mutation, making it even rarer and even more difficult to treat.
Suddenly, Cooper who had been running 40 miles a week was stuck in a hospital bed.
Cooper was determined not to let the cancer keep him down. He asked for a stationary bike and his doctors agreed.
The cycling gave Cooper an escape from the daily treatments.
“It was the only thing that kept my mind going that just allowed me to just focus on something else besides the cancers and medicines and everything.”
The Make-A-Wish organization also stepped in to help Cooper and his family during his battle with cancer. They’ll be taking a trip to London to experience the World Track and Field Championships.
“Thank you so much for granting my wish and thousands of other kids wishes,” Cooper said.
Cooper is now in remission after bone marrow transplant in June 2016.
He hopes to be back in school in March and has plans to run track and cross country at either Miami of Ohio or Wake Forest.
Cooper is now using his new-found love of cycling to help other Hoosier children living with life-threatening medical conditions.
He’s teaming up with Make-A-Wish and Cyclebar at Traders Point for an event on Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. Cost is $25 and spots are still open.