Chiefs fan who beat cancer says ‘run it back’ slogan has new meaning for him


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs Kingdom has some pretty inspirational fans, people who know how to rise above seemingly insurmountable challenges and run for life’s end zone.

Twenty-two-year-old Matt May is one of those fans. Wise beyond his years. He is quiet, humble, eloquent, genuine and a rabid Chiefs fan.

May was diagnosed with Leukemia nearly four years ago. His comeback is one for the record books.

Doctors told May that he had leukemia just two years after one of his all-time favorite Chiefs players, Eric Berry, had struggled with the same disease.

Berry came back in astonishing fashion. That was May’s plan, too.

“It was so incredible to see Berry out there living his dream after everything he had been through. It was such an inspiration to me, that what I’m going through and what I have been through is not going to define the rest of my life. My dreams are still attainable because he’s living proof of that,” May said.

May working on his Master’s degree in education at Truman State University in hopes of becoming a middle school English teacher.

Although May’s immune system and strength was low during treatments for his blood cancer, his family bought season tickets to the 2017-18 season.

Home games at Arrowhead Stadium were the one thing he looked forward to, usually the only thing he did.

“It was an incredible relief and break for however many hours on Sunday to take a step back from my struggles and my hardships of that day, of that week, and have fun and live in those three or four hours of football,” May said.

Over the years since the diagnosis, May has celebrated highs and endured painful lows. And slowly but surely, as the Chiefs began their rise, so did May.

“It’s been an incredible experience as I have gotten better, the Chiefs have gotten better. The incredible joy that comes with not only watching them play, but with what they have on the field,” May said.

Last season, at the Chiefs Cancer Awareness Game, May was chosen to hold a ribbon. His family supported him, hoping he was through the worst of the battle with the relentless disease.

But this April, more disappointment. May had a bone marrow transplant that didn’t take.

For 15 long days, his family could only look through the windows of the hospital where he fought, praying for the best. May’s immune system should have shut down after the failed transplant but instead, a surprise worthy of any fourth quarter Chief’s turnaround.

Defying the odds, May’s immune system bounced back and he is now cancer-free. The experience has taught him to take each day as it comes.

“Whatever happens, happens, I think. If this experience has helped me see anything, it’s that we should cherish the wins, and the losses you learn from,” said May.

This year, the Chiefs’ slogan is “Run it Back.” Those words have taken on a whole new meaning for Matt May.

Early last year, the May family planned a trip to Tampa for Super Bowl LV. With COVID-19, that road trip is now up in the air. They didn’t plan to attend the game, but they are sure hoping May’s doctor gives him clearance to head south this February, where May believes his team will indeed “Run it Back” for a second straight Super Bowl Championship.

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