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Greensburg doctor writes about personal experiences in 'I Had Cancer'

| Thursday, April 9, 2015, 8:24 p.m.

Greensburg's Matthew Walton has always tried to make the best of a bad situation — even the cancerous brain tumor doctors found when he was 13 years old.

He is now 32, cancer free and a doctor himself, and he's written a book about how his experiences have shaped him.

“Holey Ship High In Transport: I Had Cancer” is a 68-page paperback published by Pittsburgh's Dorrance Publishing Co.

The title is an inside joke that will be made clear by reading the book, Walton said.

“It stands for something,” he said.

He wrote the book with help from his father, Gary Walton. It was originally a way of working through his own experiences, he said.

“At first it was kind of like therapy, looking at how everything fit together and drawing conclusions,” he said.

As a teenager, Walton had brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. He said he wrote the book to detail his own experiences, and to help others find the strength to work through a terrible situation.

“It's basically a way of picking from the bad to make the good,” he said.

Walton coped with his cancer through humor as a teen. He remembers having his mother draw a smiley face on his bald head after he lost all his hair from chemotherapy.

His treatments were successful. Walton has been in remission for years. Along the way, he said he has met many loving, helpful people who inspired him to keep going.

“People doing small things can make a huge difference in your life. Certain radiologists, you never forget because they were so nice to you in the hospital.”

The kindness of others encouraged his own life's path.

“A lot of people kind of inspired me to push my life in a certain direction,” he said.

He decided to pass this kindness and caring on to others by becoming a doctor.

He received a medical degree from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and recently finished a residency at UPMC McKeesport.

He is now an attending family practice physician at Prime Medical Care in Belle Vernon.

His book is available for $11 in paperback or $6 for a digital edition at

Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or