• See ya later, suckas! 5-year-old dying of rare cancer writes own obituary

    By: Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:
    VAN METER, Iowa -

    “See ya’ later, suckas!”

    Garrett Matthias’ final message to the world held the same gusto that the 5-year-old had during his life, which ended July 6 following a 10-month-long battle with cancer.

    The Van Meter, Iowa, boy wrote his own obituary, with help from his parents, Emilie and Ryan Matthias. Emilie Matthias told the Des Moines Register that she and her husband began writing down things Garrett would say as he talked about his wishes, particularly after learning in mid-June that his cancer was terminal. 

    The Register reported that Garrett was diagnosed in September with alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that began in the temporal bone of his skull, his cranial nerve and his inner ear. He underwent grueling treatments in the hope of beating the disease but, by the time he died, his treatment-resistant tumors had invaded the lining of his brain, causing painful headaches and backaches. 

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    Garrett Matthias, 5, of Van Meter, Iowa, wrote his own obituary before he died July 6, 2018, of alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma. Photo: Courtesy of Emilie Matthias

    Garrett Matthias, 5, of Van Meter, Iowa, wrote his own obituary before he died July 6, 2018, of alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma. The rare cancer, with which he was diagnosed in September, started in his temporal bone, his cranial nerve and his inner ear. Garrett loved superheroes, especially Batman, and wanted a Thor-inspired goodbye at his funeral, along with snow cones and a bouncy house for every year that he lived. His parents, Emilie and Ryan Matthias, are making his wishes happen at his memorial service Saturday. (Courtesy of Emilie Matthias)

    His parents decided he would get the funeral he wanted, complete with a bouncy house for every year that he lived. Garrett’s memorial, scheduled for Saturday, will also have snow cones, carnival treats and fireworks.

    Garrett, nicknamed “Great Garrett Underpants” for his dislike of pants, will also have a Viking sendoff: A local archer will shoot a flaming arrow onto a small boat carrying his ashes across a neighbor’s pond. 

    “I’d say things like, ‘When I die, I want to turn into a star,’” Matthias told the Register. “He’d say, ‘I want to be burned like in ‘Thor,’ and then I want to become a gorilla.”

    The topic of death arose multiple times over the months Garrett fought cancer, as his parents attended funerals of other children who had succumbed to the disease. Matthias said he would see them come home from the services filled with sadness.

    “He would say, ‘Why are funerals so sad? I’m going to have bouncy houses at mine,’” Matthias told the newspaper

    When the Matthiases learned that Garrett’s condition would not improve, they came up with a questionnaire and began compiling his answers. That questionnaire, recreated below, turned into a portion of his obituary.

    My name is: Garrett Michael Boofias.

    My birthday is: I am 5 years old.

    My address is: I am a Bulldog!

    My favorite color is: Blue...and red and black and green.

    My favorite superhero is: Batman…and Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk and Cyborg.

    When I grow up: I'm going to be a professional boxer.

    My favorite people are: Mommy, Daddy, my sister ‘Delcina’ (Delphina); the grandparents with the new house (Fredric and Cheryl Krueger); the grandparents with the camper (Daniel and Nita Matthias); my cousins, Grady, ‘that guy I took down that one time’ (Luke) and London Marie; my auntie Janette and stinky Uncle Andy (Andrew and Janette Krueger); those two guys, you know, my uncles (Kristopfer Krueger and James Taylor); Batman!!

    The things I love the most: Playing with my sister, my blue bunny, thrash metal, Legos, my daycare friends, Batman and when they put me to sleep before they access my port.

    Things I hate: Pants, dirty stupid cancer, when they access my port, needles and the monkey nose that smells like cherry farts. I do like the mint monkey nose at Mayo Radiation, and that one guy that helped me build Legos (Randy).

    When I die: I am going to be a gorilla and throw poo at Daddy!

    Burned or buried: I want to be burned (like when Thor’s mommy died) and made into a tree so I can live in it when I’m a gorilla.

    Big or small funeral: Funerals are sad. I want 5 bouncy houses (because I’m 5), Batman and snow cones.

    The obituary noted that Garrett’s parents would honor his wishes -- and that a symbolic “Asgardian” burial ceremony and fireworks will be held just after sunset Saturday.

    “A private burial of Garrett’s ashes will be held at a later time once his parents figure out how the hell to get his ashes made into a tree and locate a nature preserve, so his tree resides in a protected area,” the obituary read

    Though the questionnaire portion of Garrett’s obituary was somewhat light-hearted, the Matthiases pulled no punches when it came to writing about what their son had been through. 

    Garrett Matthias, 5, of Van Meter, Iowa, wrote his own obituary before he died July 6, 2018, of alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma. The rare cancer, with which he was diagnosed in September, started in his temporal bone, his cranial nerve and
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

    Garrett Matthias, 5, of Van Meter, Iowa, wrote his own obituary before he died July 6, 2018, of alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma. The rare cancer, with which he was diagnosed in September, started in his temporal bone, his cranial nerve and his inner ear. Garrett loved superheroes, especially Batman, and wanted a Thor-inspired goodbye at his funeral, along with snow cones and a bouncy house for every year that he lived. His parents, Emilie and Ryan Matthias, are making his wishes happen at his memorial service Saturday. (Courtesy of Emilie Matthias)

    “The reality for Garrett and so many other children is pediatric cancer is an ugly, nasty beast that leaves a path of destruction,” the obituary read. “For Garrett and many others before him -- cancer kills. Those that are ‘lucky’ enough to survive endure long-term, debilitating side effects and the constant fear of relapse. 

    “We will fight for a cure until no other kids are robbed of their childhood, no other siblings lose their best friends and no other parents have to bury their babies.” 

    Read Garrett’s entire obituary here

    Matthias told the newspaper that Garrett’s doctors were always frank about the realities of his treatment. 

    It’s not those beautiful commercials with these kids with bald heads that are smiling and everyone is cured,” Matthias said. "They were upfront that chemo is poison; radiation, burns. The other way is to cut it out. You choose and make hard decisions about poisoning, burning and cutting your child. Those are things nobody should have to do. Those shouldn’t be the ways we treat our kids.

    “Cancer is horrible. This kid is awesome, and he died of cancer.”

    Matthias’ cousin created a GoFundMe page for the family to help pay Garrett’s medical and funeral costs. As of about noon Friday, it had raised $40,000 of the $75,000 goal. 

    The family also encouraged people to make donations to several nonprofits that helped Garrett during his fight, including the Little Al Foundation, the Pink Tractor Foundation and the University of Iowa Dance Marathon.

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