Ankeny to hold benefit for well
Despite battling brain cancer, Ankeny dentist Matt McCullough continues to care for his patients at Ankeny Dental Professionals.
Now, the community can show how much it cares at a special benefit planned for this weekend.
McCullough graduated from Ankeny High School, and after attending dental school at the University of Iowa, he returned to his hometown to open his practice.
His life was turned upside down in July 2014 when a small bump on his head turned out to be solitary fibrous hemangiopercytoma sarcoma. Brain cancer.
“When Matt had the knot checked out, they thought it was more cosmetic, but when they went in to surgery, they realized they were dealing with much more than that. He had it removed, underwent many tests to resume normal life functions and even began seeing patients again,” family friend Sara Wille said. “But in the fall of 2015, he had a re occurrence and underwent surgery again. It’s a really rare cancer.”
McCullough has been working closely with a doctor at the University of Iowa who is studying his type of cancer. He also is undergoing experimental treatments at the Mayo Clinic.
“He’s in a couple of trials, because it’s just such a rare form of cancer. There isn’t a lot of proven chemotherapy and other treatments to prevent further re occurrence, because not much is known about it,” Wille said. wholesale jerseys from china“He’ll be returning for scans soon to see how the current chemo is working.”
Despite the diagnosis, McCullough and his family wife Brea, and children Sara, Brady and Troy have remained the “most positive people you will ever meet,” Wille said.
“After his diagnosis and the re occurrence, you’d still find them volunteering in the high school concession stand at the elementary school. They’re very involved in the community and didn’t stop helping others. Matt also continues to see his patients. He’s such a committed dentist. He’s worried about his patients and their care while he’s battling his own brain cancer,” she said.
The McCulloughs are working with the University of Iowa to establish an outreach program that will help other dentists who are ill and unable to operate their own practice and care for patients.
“When you’re the sole proprietor, if you fall sick or have an emergency, there’s no one to fall back on. Since he’s been sick, a couple of Matt’s friends who he graduated from dental school with have stepped in and helped see patients in his absence, which encouraged Matt and Brea to set something similar up for others,” Wille said.
The fundraiser Friday at Ankeny First United Methodist Church will include live and silent auctions. There will be sports memorabilia and autographs from Iowa and Iowa State University, tickets to sporting events, golf outings, spa packages, artwork and items donated by professional golfer Zach Johnson.
“A former NFL player who was in two Super Bowls is going to do a football signing during the event. He’ll set out his Super Bowl items for people to see, and he is bringing a couple of jerseys autographed by some of his former players,” Wille said.
Brea McCullough extended her thanks to everyone who has helped the family during the past two years.
“It requires stamina from all of us. Day to day activities don’t stop because you have cancer. From trips to Mayo for treatment to plans for getting kids here and there while we’re gone, it can be emotionally and physically exhausting,” she said. “Having the Ankeny community remember our family and this road we’re on leaves us humbled. When we found out that our friends were organizing this event, it brought us to our knees. It means so much knowing we aren’t fighting alone. To us, that’s an emotional kind of medicine.”
McCullough fundraiserWHAT: The fundraiser for Ankeny dentist Matt McCullough will include a spaghetti supper, live and silent auctions and a raffle. Free will donations will be accepted. All money will be used to offset medical expenses accrued during McCullough’s fight with brain cancer.