His initial bloodwork was dismissed by the doctors even when he began to feel extremely unwell.
Soon after being married in September 2021, Matthew and Graziella "Gracie" Robertson received the wonderful news that they were expecting their first child, a baby girl. Gracie told PEOPLE, "The second I got the positive test, Matthew was out there looking at little baby shoes and baby clothes, He was so, so excited to be a dad." However, things did not go as planned for the couple. As the due date for the baby approached, Matthew began to sense a problem. He began grumbling in May that he was constantly exhausted and that his back hurt.
Dad-to-Be Dies of 'Extraordinarily Rare' Cancer 3 Weeks After First ER Visit https://t.co/kkKH62mdBT— People (@people) June 22, 2022
According to Gracie, it "was all easily explained away." She said, "We would go on trips, and he was building things for the baby. So, of course, you're going to be tired, and, of course, your back's going to hurt." The couple had no way of knowing that Matthew actually had a rare blood vessel-related cancer called epithelioid angiosarcoma at the time. According to Mayo Clinic, "Angiosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that forms in the lining of the blood vessels and lymph vessels. The lymph vessels are part of the immune system."
As soon as Matthew began to feel unwell in May, he made sure to visit a doctor. His blood tests showed higher liver enzymes and a raised white blood cell count after his checkup. The counts were higher than normal, however, Gracie said that they "didn't think too much into it and neither did his doctor." She added, "His doctor said, 'It's probably nothing, but let's get the blood work redrawn.'"
A rare cancer killed this expectant dad. Or maybe it was the spectacular failure of the doctors to realize he was very very sick. He had epithelioid angiosarcoma, a #cancer that often originates in deep tissue. https://t.co/Te2lJ1uxfj #angiosarcoma— Jennifer Margulis (@JenniferMarguli) June 23, 2022
His liver enzymes and white blood cells had much greater numbers when the redrawn findings were received. However, his doctor was still unconcerned. The doctor advised that if he felt sick, he should visit the emergency room. Matthew experienced night sweats and was increasingly weary in the days after his appointment with the doctor. One day, he woke up and told his wife, "I think I should just go to the ER." Matthew had a CAT scan and an abdominal ultrasound done there. His liver, spleen, and back all had lesions according to the tests. Gracie recalled, "The doctors were like, 'We think it's cancer, and you need to do something about this.'"
Doctors advised them to consult a pancreatic cancer expert since they suspected that Matthew's pancreas may possibly have lesions. The doctor suspected lymphoma after ruling out pancreatic cancer following a blood marker test. They had a liver biopsy performed the next day as per her recommendation. Matthew continued to deteriorate as they awaited the biopsy findings at home.
Dad-to-Be Matthew Robertson, 30, Dies of "Extraordinarily Rare" Cancer 3 Weeks After First ER Visit...— Dr. James E. Olsson (@DrJamesOlsson) June 22, 2022
- Epithelioid angiosarcoma...
- A rare cancer affecting the blood vessels...
- Elevated liver enzymes and an elevated white blood cell count...
- People pic.twitter.com/GvLumbjnca
"He couldn't sleep, he couldn't eat and he felt super bloated. He couldn't do anything," Gracie said. Then, in an effort to cheer him up, Gracie offered that they find out the gender of their unborn child. She said, "We found out on our own, just us two, about our little girl." She added, "He was so excited about being a girl dad." They were happy, but Matthew's health was becoming worse. He wasn't "drinking or eating anything" on May 31, so Gracie made the decision to take him back to the ER. He was identified as having epithelioid angiosarcoma when the liver biopsy findings were received. He died on June 6, after struggling for his life for seven days in the hospital. Gracie wants to give their daughter the initials MJR in memory of Matthew. She said, "We are going to make sure that she knows every single detail about her dad. He was truly incredible."
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to financially help Gracie and her unborn child.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe/In memory of Matthew Robertson