Matt Bessette doesn’t remember most of his cancer treatment. He does remember feeling like a human pin cushion, and that his mother always tried to remain positive and let him be a kid. Matt was just 3 when he was diagnosed with leukemia and spent more a year at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center receiving treatment. After 5 years cancer free, when he was 12, doctors declared him cured!
9 years later, Matt was a healthy young man who while hanging out with friends, found mixed martial arts (MMA) videos and started watching them. Soon, he and his friends were spending hours performing what they saw. They didn’t really know what they were doing, but they were having a great time, so they decided to find a gym and begin training. Matt’s first professional fight was in September 2007, and he’s been hooked ever since. When it came time for Matt to tell his parents about his new hobby, they weren’t surprised – they always knew that their son was a fighter.
Training and competing in MMA fights takes hard work and dedication, something that Matt learned while undergoing cancer treatment. “Whenever people tell me that I can’t do something, I try to remember that it’s not the worst I’ve been through.” That attitude has helped Matt be successful in the MMA arena.
In February, Matt won an important fight against a top ranked fighter. This has helped catapult him into the spotlight. Matt is relishing in his success and continuing to work hard at what he loves. “I try to live in the present,” says Matt. “The past is the past. All I can focus on is right now. All I can control is right now.”
In late March, he will take on another top ranked fighter, and winning this fight will help cement his celebrity with MMA fans. Matt hopes that his success will show other cancer survivors that they can do anything they set their minds too.
In fact, when he was approached by a school psychologist about a young fan undergoing treatment for cancer, he jumped at the opportunity to help. He sent a signed glove and a note encouraging the young boy to keep on fighting. Matt hopes that he can find other opportunities to help others stay strong in the face of adversity.