Online Support System Gets Doctor Through His Cancer Journey

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Dr. Matt Dudley, acute myeloid leukemia survivor

“Through CaringBridge, I’ve learned that the ability to communicate with others is crucial when battling a grave illness or disease. People’s support has been vital to getting through what I’ve gone through.” – Dr. Matt Dudley

As a physician undergoing cancer treatments far from home, Dr. Matt Dudley relied on the love of family and friends.

Things moved pretty fast once Matt was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in March of 2013. The night of his diagnosis, he was on a plane from Alaska to Seattle for treatment and began chemo two days later. He barely had time to say goodbye to his two young boys.

CaringBridge Connects and Records Memories

It was hard to be so far from his family and Matt worried that his kids weren’t going to remember him. That’s where CaringBridge came in.

“I started using CaringBridge as a way to inform friends and relatives but quickly realized it was a way to record some moments of my life for my boys,” Matt says. “CaringBridge was a fantastic way to communicate and let our friends know what was going on.”

During his leukemia journey, Matt relied on his parents to help keep everyone updated, including people in his hometown of Steamboat, Colorado. The love of family and friends was critical to maintaining a positive attitude.

“People’s support has been vital to getting through what I’ve gone through and I’ve been grateful to reconnect with old friends,” he says.

Providing Hope and Comfort During a Difficult Time

As a physician facing cancer, the support Matt received on CaringBridge changed how he now treats patients.

“As a young doctor I was always taught to listen and try to build rapport with patients,” Matt says. “Now I think it’s more important to take the time to chat with patients and learn what’s going on and why they are asking for my help and care. If I can check on them via their CaringBridge website I can have far better insight into their lives as they travel through their experience. It’s no longer just about treating the patient but also about providing them with hope and comfort during a difficult time.”

Spreading the Word

Matt now spreads the word about CaringBridge through a class he teaches for first-year medical students. Matt shares how CaringBridge made a difference for him and instructs his students on informing their patients about the benefits of CaringBridge.

Head Up, Heart Strong

Matt’s motto these days is Head Up, Heart Strong. He says, “We are all stronger than we think. You can get through things you can’t expect.” He shares his story in this inspiring video.

Share CaringBridge

If you’d like to join Matt in spreading the word about CaringBridge, check out our volunteer opportunities.

Comments (17)

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Ruth BARNES May 19, 2016 3:47pm
God bless you. It is so important that drs understand how patients deal with bad news regarding their health. Thank you
Ruth BARNES May 19, 2016 3:37pm
You inspired me. Our journey has begun: waiting on biopsy results for my 38yo son. Mass on lung. I can't breathe. I am frozen in fear.
Terri Hopper Mar 10, 2016 2:18am
God Bless You,Doctor Matt, a very difficult way to realise there are other ,sometimes different ways to treat patients.May you live a long happy life.CaringBridge does amazing work .
Michael Grotefend Mar 09, 2016 6:42pm
In the name of our daughter Jenny Bellard who fought AML our prayers and thoughts are with you. May God guide your path. Thanks to Caring Bridge for providing the avenue to communicate to our family and fiends during Jenny's journey.
Shirley Mar 09, 2016 3:47pm
May God be with you on this journey and may he bless you and your family. Love & prayers, Shirley
Jack Falker Mar 09, 2016 12:48pm
My wife, Eileen, had a brain aneurysm on March 10, 2015, and we really didn't know if she would live. The good news is that she recovered almost fully in one year. Caring Bridge was, well, a wonderful "bridge" to our friends and folks we didn't even know, who chimed in with their own experiences with traumatic brain injuries. Posting our Caring Bridge posts on Facebook and Twitter really magnified their impact and put us in touch with those folks we didn't know but just wanted to help us through our difficult time. Caring Bridge is worth everyone's support.
GARRETT MAXWELL Mar 09, 2016 11:53am
As a physician battling Renal Cell cancer for 25 years, I have used CaringBridge site in the past 9 yrs since brain metastasis/surgery in 2007. This feature of my journey has made a world of comfort--to inform/communicate with family & friends in a convenient manner, boosting morale and spiritual growth during this time as a positive means of expressing gratitude to God & my therapy team for all that has been accomplished during this journey & to encourage other patients in their cancer/illness experiences. My age now 81 full years of this life; as I "PRESS ON" to the next -- Eternity with the Creator of ALL!
Bob Miller Mar 09, 2016 9:57am
Thanks for sharing your story. I too started using Caring Bridge as a way to communicate my journey and not have to repeat the story too many times. What is did not anticipate and turned out to be much more important was the response I received. The amazing words of support and accompanying prayers I got back from people, some of whom I had not seen for decades, was critical as I went through my chemo treatment.
Ernest Rizzo Mar 09, 2016 8:27am
I too am on this journey with Brain Cancer. My son just passed in Dec of Brain cancer and also lost a grand son in Sept. I joined Caring Bridges last year for my son. I keep prayin each day.
Norman Sudduth Mar 09, 2016 8:26am
Check out my website: No one should ever die of cancer. works on dogs and cats also. In 2006, i had high grade, high stage prostate cancer. The oncologist said i had 18 months to live. God put the answer in front of me. 4 herbs, a restricted diet and one month of my time is all it took. My PSA has been zero ever since. Norman Sudduth, MD.
Donna Blauw Mar 09, 2016 1:16am
Just wanted to add that I discovered this site when walking through heart failure and a transplant with my 28 year old son. Then a little over 2 years later a friend started a site for me when I was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell lymphoma non Hodgkin. It makes it so easy to keep everyone informed and relieves a lot of pressure.
Donna Blauw Mar 09, 2016 1:12am
Great to see a doctor become more personal with patients. We all need support and CaringBridge is a great gift to anyone going through a crisis!
Annette Hicks Mar 08, 2016 6:43pm
Thank you for sharing this story. I was recently diagnosed with Invasive Ductile Carcinoma INSITU (Breast Cancer) in Nov 2015. I had a lumpectomy and start radiation treatments on April 4 2016. I do not have a caring bridge site but was very inspired by this story. I try to stay positive. When you are diagnosed with the big "C" it can scare you to death. However, I've learned the power of positive thinking and leaning on a higher Power.
Honey Maner Mar 08, 2016 5:56pm
What an inspiring young man ! I love his philosophy, and think it is a critical one to share. I love Caring Bridge, and am happy to see it is important to others, also. God bless and keep this fine young doctor and his family.
Jeanne and Bob Burns May 03, 2015 5:27pm
Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.
Shirley Templeton Toof Mar 21, 2015 9:18pm
My husband is having a Bone Marrow Transplant on April 16, 2015 at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN; we love Caring Bridge - so helpful and therapeutic for us!!
Barb Harmell Mar 08, 2015 7:17am
Thanks for sharing I'm just starting my own journey