One minute, Matthew Hall remembers the Pledge of Allegiance.
The next thing he recalled was several emergency medical technicians hovering over him.
Scary, for sure.
But the real panic set in months later when Hall and his family found out he had cancer.
“The oncologist did tell us this could be cancer,” Hall’s mother Yolanda Potter said. “I was crying. I was shaking all the way to my toes. I didn’t know what to do or say.”
All that was happened in 2017, late in Hall’s freshman year and early in his sophomore year at East Clinton High School.
Now, the Astros senior is going to Clark State University to play baseball for the Eagles.
“Clark State is raising funds to have their own baseball field,” Hall said. “All their classes are in one area. They have IT (Information Technology) and that’s what I’m going to college for.”
Matthew Hall lived in New Vienna then moved to Sabina but has always been in the East Clinton School District.
He began playing baseball when he was four. Mainly a first baseman and outfielder, Hall didn’t start pitching until the summer following his third grade year.
“Jessica Howard was the first coach to have me pitch,” Hall said.
Over the years, Hall has played football, basketball and baseball. He has honed his athletic skills on the baseball diamond mostly, saying “I like baseball because it’s down and dirty, I’m having fun.”
Baseball, though, took a back seat to an unknown, without prior warning medical issue. It was March 6, 2017.
“I was in Info Tech class, Mrs. Walker,” Hall said as if it was yesterday. “It was about nine in the morning. I turn on the computer and log in. We said the Pledge of Allegiance and the next thing I know I’m waking up with EMTs.”
Hall had a seizure but the cause was not known. The next day, Hall went from Clinton Memorial Hospital to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for testing.
Neurologist Dr. Hansel Greiner at CCH “saw something” in the speech and language portion of Hall’s brain, Potter said.
Hall went on medication for a month. Two weeks after his medication was done, he had another seizure.
“April 24 … same class, same time, same scenario,” he said. This time, Rhylee Luttrell caught Hall before he hit the floor.
Back to Children’s Hospital for more testing. Radiologists, Hall said, found a spot on his brain. It was on the inner portion of his brain, not the outer, so it was more difficult to locate, Potter said.
Size of a dime
A short stay in CCH was scheduled for July. It turned out to be a long stay. Once the tumor was found, cancer came in to play. That wouldn’t be known for certain until a biopsy was taken and that wasn’t going to be scheduled until August.
“I was devastated,” Potter said. “I was in tears but was trying not to cry too much for him, but it scared me to death.”
The biopsy results were delivered in September and the dime-sized tumor in the left side of Hall’s brain was indeed cancerous, Glioblastoma to be specific, Hall said.
“It just didn’t seem real,” he said. “It was kinda scary. I was a little nervous to be honest.”
The surgery to remove the tumor was set for 7:30 a.m. Nov. 21.
The doctors involved didn’t want to wait. Glioblastoma grows rapidly.
Despite the surgery being set for just days before Thanksgiving, Hall told his mother “We’ll be home for Thanksgiving dinner.”
Potter’s response, “No, we’ll be in here until Saturday because that’s what the doctor said. We left Thursday at 8 a.m.”
Hall told his family they’d be there for the big family dinner. Told everyone, that is, except his father James. When he walked in to his house, he said his father did a double take at Matthews’s surprise arrival.
“I saw tears in his eyes,” Matthew said.
Hall had a successful surgery. The doctors were confident prior to the operation and remained light-hearted afterward.
Potter said Dr. Francesco Mangano, the doctor who performed the surgery, was re-assuring ahead of the event.
“He came in and said ‘I got this. You have no worries’.”
At the follow-up appointment, Dr. Peter de Blank, Hall’s oncologist, asked, “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” Hall said.
Despite knowing de Blank had a humorous side to him, Hall said, “I kind of sank a little bit.” de Blank quickly interjected, “Really, there is no bad news.”
The family was told the surgery was able to remove all the tumor and Hall was cancer-free with no radiation necessary.
“I thank God every day that He guided the hands of Matt’s surgeon to get all the tumor,” Potter said. “I believe it was one of God’s miracles.”
Potter also said she was pleased with response time and purpose of the East Clinton teachers, administrators and deputy sheriff on hand when Hall had the seizures.
Oh, no moment
Hall’s recovery seemed remarkable. “The oncologist was actually puzzled,” Potter said. “They thought he would need speech therapy, but he needed none of that. He never even missed a step.”
Post-surgery activities for Hall were, understandably, limited. No football, no basketball. Nothing until a February doctor’s appointment had given him the all-clear.
In the immediate aftermath of the surgery, Hall was set for an appointment every three months. In a year, it was every six months. When he has his next appointment in June, he does not have to return but once a year.
“The yearly checks have me worried,” Potter admitted. “Anything can happen in that year but he (Matthew) always let’s me know. Still, that’s going to worry me.”
Hall is taking things in stride and admitted to learning life lessons aside from anatomy and brain makeup.
“I learned not to be impatient,” he said. “I learned how to not take anything for granted.”
While cleared for baseball, playing the game he loves is not without risks for Hall, whether those risks are physical or mental.
In a summer league game with his Batavia Thunder team, Hall was at the plate. As the pitcher unleashed the next pitch, Hall knew it was trouble.
“I saw (the ball) coming out of his hand and I turned all the way around,” he said.
Mom didn’t have the sight-line to see the pitch was headed for trouble but knew it soon enough.
“(A pitch) hit him in the back of the helmet,” Potter said. “He went down. I was Oh, no!”
Despite being hit, Hall was fine. He said he has some trepidation when he goes back to the same classroom as his two seizures but is dealing with the cancer on a day to day basis.
He’s even turned to helping others who are going through the same thing. He received a call from a young boy who was getting ready for a similar surgery.
“I told him don’t be discouraged, live life to the fullest and don’t give up,” said Hall. “Keep doing what you love and you’ll get through it.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports