Matthew Christensen is no stranger to a fight. He served in the Army and currently works as a full-time firefighter. But his family and friends have fought for much of his life against a common enemy: Cancer. Now, he gets to fight for them.
Matthew first witnessed his mother battle against breast cancer… twice.
“My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in ’95,” he told me. “She had the surgery done in ’96, and she went into remission. And then in the summer of last year, she had a test done that [said] she had cancer again,” he said.
Thankfully, after a second surgery, she is in remission once again. “She’s gone through it twice and seeing how strong she was, of a person… it’s a great deal of motivation for me,” he said.
His grandmother also stepped into the ring with lung cancer. Unfortunately, the disease gained the upper hand.
“I was very, very close with her and it was really hard for me,” Matthew said, his voice falling. She passed on the same day as her idol, Johnny Cash, in 2003.
Then, he watched a friend of his lose their own family.
“Last year was another traumatic experience; one of my co-workers and a really good friend of mine lost his sister to cancer. She had breast cancer, I think it was about 18 years ago, and she was in remission. And then she got cancer again and it was a pretty elevated… it wasn’t long between when I was told that she was diagnosed again to when she passed. And he’s probably one of the nicest guys at the fire station. It was a really hard time.”
Taking a Stance
Matthew had always been interested in boxing when he wasn’t fighting fires, but he’d only just begun to buckle down when his coach approached him about trying for the Haymakers for Hope Charity fight. The charity works with amateurs and seasoned athletes to raise money for cancer research and treatment in events across the country. He was interested but apprehensive.
“I kept tossing the idea around, and then they opened registration. And I’m asking everybody ‘Should I do this? I’m not quite sure.’ I’m 33 years old, so it’s kind of old for the whole fight game.”
“I texted my Army buddy… and he just said, ‘Why not?’ And I said, ‘You know what, you’re absolutely right.’ And I hit submit,” he said. “It was a no-brainer.”
Swing for the Target
Haymakers for Hope typically selects just a few fighters for their charity matches. At first, Matthew did not make the selection process.
“…I was heartbroken. But my coach emailed the people that he knows in the company, and in like less than a day they got in touch with me… I guess they really thought that my story was touching, so they [accepted me],” he said.
Once accepted, he opened his page to raise the funds necessary to participate. A minimum of $5,000 needed to be raised by his fight date, May 18th; not an easy feat. But within the small town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, there were others that had seen fights of their own and wanted to help.
These generous donors have managed to give him over half of what he needs in just under a month, but Matthew is still just over $2,000 away from the minimum needed to participate in the fight. In the meantime, he’s been taking every spare moment to train and prepare for the fight of his life to KO cancer.
If you’d like to donate to Matthew, you can do so via his profile on the Haymaker’s website. If you’ll be in the Boston area the day of the fight, ticket sales will also count toward his fundraising goal.