Matthew Hannon doesn’t remember having cancer, nor does he even notice he’s missing most of his left arm. The 7-year-old from South Plainfield, New Jersey is too busy pitching, hitting, and running the bases to pay much regard to such non-issues.
Matt has been pitching on baseball teams since he was 4, and he’ll be swimming for his elementary school team this year, and he shoots hoops on the basketball court.
There's very little that stops him.
“I can do everything that anyone else can do,” Matt tells Ellen’s Good News. “Baseball’s fun and I’m really good at it. It’s just as easy for me as anyone else.”
Born with Ewing Sarcoma, Matt’s cancer quickly spread to his lungs, liver and left arm when he was an infant, and doctors gave him a 30 percent chance of survival. He went through 14 rounds of chemotherapy, and had his left arm amputated by the time he was a 1-year-old.
As Matt only knows life with one arm, it’s made little difference in his ability to live like any other kid.
“By the time he was diagnosed, he had no use for the arm, the bone was gone,” Matt’s mom Keri Hannon says. “So when we had it amputated -- it was a week before his first birthday -- they told us he may not notice any difference. We’ve had one struggle so far and it was riding a bike. He asked for a prosthetic… but when he brought it home, he wouldn’t wear it. He still struggles with the bike, but everything else he manages fine… he does pretty much everything.”
Though Matt doesn’t seem to care much about his disability, saying “It’s over with, I’ve moved on," he does find inspiration in others who share in his story -- namely former Yankees pitcher Jim Abbott, who also had one arm; Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack; and Winter, the porpoise in "Dolphin Tale,” who lost his tail in a fishing net.
“They’re doing the things that they like to do and they’re trying new things,” Matt explains.
He's also in tune with others facing obstacles, and recently shaved off his hair in a fundraiser for kids with cancer. He was the top earner in donations at the event, contributing $1,100 for the cause.
Matt's advice for people who are like him or aspire to be like him? The inspiring youngster says, “Stay strong and believe in yourself.”