Matt Cable was your typical jock — he was a five-sport athlete in highschool and wrestled in college. When he graduated in 2012 and it came time to consider his career, Cable was ready to suit up and serve his country.
“I was going to school for criminal justice,” Cable said in an interview with Muscle & Fitness. “I had wanted to get my career going, and I thought that I could get it moving a little quicker if I joined the [United States] Air Force.”
Over the next few years, Cable performed his military duties while keeping up a workout regiment and keeping fit, and by 2018, he was in peak physical condition. So much so, Cable was invited to compete on the first season of “The Titan Games”, a fitness competition series hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
After filming, Cable was deployed overseas in January 2019 and he started to notice that between performing his job duties and working out, his body was unusually sore every single day. One doctor trip later confirmed Cable had cancer.
In 2014, Cable was working law enforcement duties while stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base. Towards the end of his tour, Cable started getting sick, and he couldn’t seem to get better. Each hospital visit, Cable left with a new prognosis, a new medication, and more confusion — one doctor said he had a neck infection and to take Advil; another doctor said he had strep throat and prescribed him antibiotics. Finally, Cable was able to find a doctor to run a blood panel and he was officially diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, AML.
Trying to bypass getting a bone marrow transplant, Cable went through chemotherapy, but suffered complete organ failure and remained in a coma for 18 days, during which he lost roughly 60 pounds from his usual 215-pound frame. Cable continued to battle through his chemo rounds once he woke up and by February 2015, he was pronounced in remission.
“I was sitting in the bed, I had my mom on the right side of me, my brother on the left side, and I'm like, ‘Well, I guess I gotta beat it,’” Cable said. “That's what I had in my head the whole time. I didn't have anything else besides that I was going to beat this thing. So that's what I did. I went to battle and after everything I went through and everything that could have gone wrong, I was able to overcome all that, survive, and fight back.”
Only four months into his overseas deployment and Cable’s cancer had returned, something he never thought would happen. Cable just lived each day at a time and knew he could battle it again if it did come back…if. Now faced with the reality of a relapse, Cable was ready to fight again, but he found out quickly his cancer had returned with a vengeance.
Tests showed 85 percent of leukemia-infected cells in Cable’s body and he spent 40 days at Walter Reed going through chemo once again trying to get back in remission. A fungal infection landed Cable back on life support, but he defied the odds and woke up. Cable’s battle however was far from over.
“I was getting ready for a bone marrow transplant now because my cancer returned,” Cable said. “After a relapse, you need to get back into remission as quickly as possible and then a bone marrow transplant as quickly as possible so you don't relapse again, but because I had that fungal infection, my body was pretty weak so we had to push my transplant date back another month.”
Cable eventually had his transplant, but he had to remain in the hospital for more chemo and a stem cell transplant. Everything was going okay, until Cable’s blood was not reproducing on its own. But as Cable said, “my body was able to survive.” Doctors performed a procedure called plasmapheresis that takes out infected plasma, cleans it, and re-inserts it back into the body through a new tube. Pretty soon, Cable’s body started reproducing blood on its own again and a week later, he was on the road to recovery and competed in a CrossFit competition.
“I was able to start training as I used to, just taking one step at a time each day,” Cable said. “It was hard to look in the mirror and see how I looked, but I continued pushing forward. The biggest thing was not giving up on myself, not giving up on my goals, and not giving up on what I love to do.”
Since then, Cable competed and medaled in all seven of his events at the 2022 Invictus Games, and qualified for the 2023 Warrior Games. None of it would have been possible however, according to Cable, if it weren’t for the strength powerlifting and CrossFit gave him.
“My body had all this fight, all the muscle, and I had really strong lungs,” Cable said. “My body gave me a better chance of fighting and surviving the battles I had to fight. Powerlifting and CrossFit training benefited me in my battles [against cancer] for sure; helped me with my mindset, mental strength, and, obviously, my physical health. How good of shape I was in was able to help me win that battle for a fact.”
Photo credits: Courtesy of Matt Cable’s Instagram