Matt Hiznay is a five-year survivor of metastatic, ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer. He was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and grew up in the small town of Poland, Ohio. Matt graduated from Poland Seminary High School in 2006 and from John Carroll University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree magna cum laude.
In August 2011, then 24-year-old Matt was eager to begin his second year of medical school at the University of Toledo. A persistent dry cough sent him to his family doctor, and after a flurry of scans, biopsies, and appointments, Matt was diagnosed with stage IV, ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer. Astonishingly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug for ALK-positive patients, crizotinib (Xalkori®, Pfizer), on the same day Matt learned that his cancer was ALK-positive. After a harrowing hospital stay that included Matt twice suffering cardiac arrest, crizotinib began to work—by November 2011, Matt’s cancer was in remission.
Although the cancer has recurred multiple times since 2011, a combination of traditional chemotherapy (carboplatin, bevacizumab and pemetrexed), radiation treatments (with cisplatin), and enrollment in two clinical trials—LDK378, now ceritinib (Zykadia®, Novartis), and PF-06463922, now lorlatinib (Pfizer)—have kept his cancer controlled. Matt celebrated the fifth anniversary of his diagnosis in August 2016.
When the cancer returned in 2012, Matt decided that he wanted to focus his career on researching new treatments for the patients of tomorrow. He withdrew from Toledo medical school and enrolled in the Molecular Medicine Ph.D. Program at Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Clinic.
Matt married Ally (née Stojkoska), his college sweetheart, on June 14, 2014. Ally is a pharmacist at Cleveland Clinic Avon Hospital. They purchased their first home in Lakewood, Ohio, in October 2016. Matt graduated from Case Western Reserve University with his Doctor of Philosophy degree in January 2018.