McClain to cancer: Yippie-Ki-Yay, Mother******
Matt McClain is back to work as the Executive Director of Mammoth Lakes Recreation (MLR) just a week out of the hospital.
McClain was diagnosed with kidney cancer around Christmas of 2018. He has been in and out of the hospital for surgeries and complications since.
The 53-year-old checked out of Mammoth Hospital on May 3rd with what doctors term “no evidence of disease,” and that day he went to the Mammoth Lakes Town Council Meeting to make a public comment.
“I asked my doctors if I could check myself out for an hour to provide comment because there was an important item on the agenda, which was to approve the challenge cost share for the Lakes Basin,” McClain said.
When someone has an illness like his, he said, it is important to maintain a sense of normalcy. McClain does that through his work with the recreation non-profit.
His medical ordeal began in late summer, 2018. He was feeling more tired than usual and experiencing pain in his “flank.”
“It wasn’t like back pain,” he said, “It seemed like it was off to the side.”
He wrote it off as pain from golfing, but it didn’t go away.
He finally got an ultrasound of his back in December and the doctor found a mass on his kidney. So he went to southern California to begin treating the cancer.
Upon closer inspection, doctors found that McClain had cancer on his kidney that had metastasized to his adrenal gland, which is next to the kidney. The tumor also had a tendril running up his vena cava toward his heart.
In mid-January, McClain underwent a twelve-hour surgery at Cedars Sinai with a thoracic and a cardiac surgeon to remove the kidney and adrenal gland.
The first complication came when his other kidney stopped working, a result of the way that it was clamped off during his surgery. His body stopped filtering his blood and he put on 40 pounds of fluid in a week. Dialysis took care of that, and he was discharged from Cedars 11 days after surgery.
The second complication was an infection in the port used to drain the fluid from the serum that developed where his kidney had been. He returned to the hospital in early March, where he stayed for 12 days until his infection was cured.
He had also become dramatically anemic from the surgery. He struggled to gather the energy to walk or talk for much of March.
In order to see how he would do at altitude he took some short trips up to Mammoth, and he felt fine.
He came up to Mammoth Lakes in late April with the intention of starting work on May 1. That’s when the third complication happened. He spiked a fever of 104 degrees and entered Mammoth Hospital with another infection in the area of his removed kidney.
He stayed in the hospital for two weeks on a cocktail of antibiotics. Now that he has been released, he still receives antibiotic infusions through the arm three times a day. He schedules work around the infusions.
While McClain was out, MLR hired two new employees whom McClain is only just now getting to work with. He has begun collaborating with Sustainable Recreation Director Matthew Paruolo to triage Paruolo’s long list of potential projects.
He has also just begun helping to direct new Program Administrator Kim Anaclerio.
Since his cancer is metastatic it could recur at any time. His diagnosis has changed his perspective on life.
“if you’re going through it (cancer), you’re scared shitless,” McClain said. “Everything changes.”
He said that the support he received from his organization and members of the Mammoth community has been invaluable.
“We are a small community, and it means a lot when people reach out and support you,” He said.
“That’s one of the great things about living in Mammoth Lakes.”