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May 08, 2008 - Image 89

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-05-08

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Obituaries

Obituaries are updated and archived on JNonline.us .

Climbing Mountains

Shelli Liebman Dorfman
Senior Writer

T

hroughout his 71/2-year battle
with Ewing's sarcoma, a form of
bone cancer, Matthew Louis Lash
lived his life hurrying to fit the most into
a short amount of time — but with the
optimism of someone who was building
plans for a future.
Matt, of Novi, died April 30, 2008, at age
27. But not before he fulfilled dreams and
achieved great milestones — including
graduating from James Madison College at
Michigan State University in East Lansing,
receiving his juris doctor degree from
Chicago-Kent College of Law, traveling to
Israel and Europe and literally climbing
mountains.
All this was done during the years he
underwent chemotherapy, radiation, oper-
ations on both lungs and a leg amputation.
"What is it Like to Have Your Leg
Amputated?" Matt pondered in a recent
essay. "It sucks:' he bluntly stated.
But the inspiring, accomplished, driven
young man also wrote with great insight
and humor about how beating the chal-
lenges his illness brought him only made
him stronger (see essay excerpt on this
page).
Matt was also in the process of writing
a book, appropriately titled Cancer Boy,
as a guide for young adults with cancer
and their parents. Although the book is
unfinished, several chapters were corn-
plete, including those with names like,
"Don't Ever Let Them Doubt:'"No Shame
In Crying,""Ask For Help, But Don't Be
Helpless" and "Hi, I Have Cancer And One
Leg, Want To Date Me?"
The book's prologue, strangely subtitled
"an epilogue:' optimistically included the
words, "My great end has yet to be writ-
ten." Continually looking ahead, next to
the category "Children" on his MySpace.
corn page, Matt filled in "Some day"

Shortly after he became ill, Matt was
the subject of a 2001 Jewish News cover
story, highlighted by the closeness of his
family and friends who rallied around
him — including Jeremy Manson, now of
Chicago, and Jeremy Wolf, now of Royal
Oak — who joined Matt when he shaved
his head in expectation of hair loss from
chemotherapy treatments.
"Matt's way of coping was through
humor:' said Manson, Matt's closest friend
over the years. "He was
funny, caring, generous,
polite, well-spoken and
extremely intelligent. He
always had a smile on
his face. But he was also
stubborn and sarcastic
and thoroughly enjoyed
watching unassuming
people react to his direct
approach to things.
"He was also strong:'
Manson added. Even
at the worst of times,
Matt Lash
Manson said, "Matt
continued to be Matt. He
never quit."
Manson's father, Marc of Farmington
Hills, "He traveled around the world, even
interning for Major League Baseball for
Bud Selig in New York the summer the
Tigers were in the World Series. He was an
incredibly strong person whose life was
such an inspiration."
Rabbi Norman Roman of Temple Kol
Ami in West Bloomfield referred to Matt
as having energy, spirit, willpower, drive
and bravado.
"He was a source of smiles, cheer and
determination ... humor, hope and cour-
age:' the rabbi said. "Had he survived,
Matt would have accomplished his goal
of becoming the general manager of a
Major League Baseball team. Matt had the
incredible ability of staying focused on his
goals even when it seemed he was con-

stantly in a hurry to get things done.
"He was a great networker, a shmoozer,
the life of the party:' Rabbi Roman added.
"He was the liaison, comfortably relating
to people from different age groups and
backgrounds or cultures. He was bound
and determined to do things his way."
Matt shared a close bond with his
brother Jason Lash of Grand Rapids, who
said, "I will cherish most the times talking
to him about my family, life and sports."
Matt was enamored with Jason
and his wife Kelley's 7-month-
old daughter, Ella. Matt's mom,
Roberta, said, "Our dear friend
Caryn Jaeger is collecting all the
cards, notes and e-mails as well
as Matt's writings and putting
together a book for Ella to have
as a remembrance of her special
Uncle Matt."
Matt participated annually in
the American Cancer Society's
West Bloomfield Relay For Life
on Team Chaverim — Hebrew
for friends — comprised of his
family and friends.
Making his mark wherever he went,
Matt proved to be unforgettable. A schol-
arship is being created in his name at the
college where he attended law school. The
group he participated with on a Birthright
Israel trip has established a memorial
fund to help support a school they visited
together in Kiryat Gat.
During that trip to Israel, when the
group was set to climb Mt. Shlomo,"he
was asked by the tour guide, Yossi, if he
would rather wait at the bottom:' Roberta
Lash said. "Matt told him, 'No way, and
proceeded to the beat everyone to the
top. Yossi called us from Israel to share
how inspired he was by Matt and retells
this story to each of his groups that go on
Birthright."
On a photo of Matt atop a mountain in
Israel, he wrote what Rabbi Roman said is

Matt, victorious atop an Israeli mountain,

defiantly displays his prosthetic leg.

"one of Matt's favorite phrases." It tellingly
reads, "Accomplishing the questionable is
unquestionably accomplishing."
Matthew Louis Lash is survived by his
parents, Cliff and Roberta Lash; brother
and sister-in-law, Jason and Kelley Lash
of Grand Rapids; niece, Ella Lash; grand-
mothers, Lois Lash, MaryJane Morrison;
aunts and uncles, Ellen Rothstein, Jeff
Rothstein, Scott Morrison, Michael and
Debbie Morrison; great-aunts and great-
uncles, Elaine and Arthur Morrison,
Eunice Cohen, Martin Rosenbloom,
Harriet Rosenbloom, Muriel Lash; cousins,
Steven and Katie Rothstein and their son,
Shea; Scott Rothstein, Marisa Morrison
and Jess Morrison.
He was the beloved grandson of the
late Edward Lash and the late Leonard
Morrison and the loving great-nephew
of the late Jerry Cohen, the late Joyce
Rosenbloom and the late Marshall Lash.
Interment was at Clover Hill Park
Cemetery. Arrangements were by Ira
Kaufman Chapel.
Contributions in Matt's memory may be
made to Pediatric Hematology Oncology
Fund of William Beaumont Hospital, do
Rose Cancer Center, 3577 W. 13 Mile Road,
Suite 101, Royal Oak, MI 48073. Another
requested place for donations is the
Pediatric Sarcoma Research Fund, 1515
Holcombe, Houston, TX 77030-4009 attn:
Berrlyn Nelson, Unit 87; checks should be
made out to M.D. Anderson, memo: Dr.
Anderson Research Fund. ❑

'What Is it Like To Have Your Leg Ampu Med.

This is an excerpt from an essay Matt
recently wrote describing his experiences
dealing with cancer.

I Matt Lash

I

t sucks. I mean, how eke should
I put it? It sucks to have your leg
amputated. New questions pop
into your mind after you have your
amputation, which you'd never think of

before, like how long will it take for me
to pass through the security check-
point at the airport; when do I tell this
cute girl that when she plays footsie
with me I might not feel it; should I
fake limp out of my car when I park at
a handicap space so people think I'm
justified for parking so close. Lots of
new questions. So no, it's not cool.
All that being said, it's pretty freak-
ing cool to have your leg amputated.

Yes, I know I'm contradicting myself,
but who cares, I have cancer and can
do what I want.
Here is a brief set of things that
I went through while having my leg
amputated. I get to the hospital on
"cutting day" at 5 a.m. and the doc-
tors mark an "X" on the correct leg
and write on the other leg "Do not
cut."
I give Mommy and Daddy and

Girlfriend kisses and exchange crying
for a moment before they give me the
great drugs and loop me up. I wake up
with a huge cast on, with a metal rod
and a plastic foot extending from the
cast.
With help from parents and rehab-
bing, I re-teach myself how to walk in
about two months. It hurts, but your

What's it like on page B42

May 8 • 2008

B41

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