What a difference a few months make.
We first met Stephanie and Matt Strutner in November, as a couple who had overcome all the odds. After years of infertility, Stephanie was 7 months pregnant. Matt had just beaten cancer. Again.
Now, they’re a party of three and Matt is back in the swing of things.
After nearly an entire season off battling Appendiceal cancer, Matt feels blessed to back at the ballpark.
“It feels great to lead the charge as far as merchandise here,” says Matt, Tennessee Smokies Merchandise Manager.
His most loyal customer is quickly becoming the team’s biggest fan!
“We’re what 2 weeks in now and we’re 2 onesies down,” says Matt’s wife, Stephanie Strutner, talking about their daughter’s wardrobe. “She has changed our life.”
Blaire, almost 4-months-old, threw mom and dad a curve ball on Friday the 13th in January. Their miracle child arrived suddenly.
“It was 30 some odd minutes and there she was,” says Matt.
“It was a huge moment of relief for me to hear her and to see her,” adds Stephanie.
After a long journey of fertility and cancer treatments, they got to meet their baby girl. She was happy and healthy, and so are mom and dad.
“My last scan in mid-March showed no growth of any tumors,” says Matt. “It’s really nice not to have doctor’s appointments on a regular basis, to not be poked and prodded and to not have to worry about blood work every week.”
Instead, his days are busy with baby, baseball and balance.
“We’re managing work and we’re managing home,” says Stephanie.
And they’re spending a lot of time at their home away from home.
“To be in the lively setting that is the ball park that’s something really special,” said Matt. “A lot of the season ticket holders and game day staff that I’ve known for years working here come in and check on me and ask how I’m feeling.”
“Things are so good,” says Stephanie. “I just could never imagine how good this could be.”
It’s even better than a World Series trophy.
“She was only several weeks old at the time,” says Matt describing a picture of Blair with the Cub's championship trophy. The Smokies are the AA affiliate of the Chicago' Cubs. “That was her first visit to the ball park.”
Blaire is a prize more valuable than a century long quest for silver and gold.
“It just brings things back into perspective for me about how far I’ve come and how fortunate I am to be where I am now and for us to have the opportunity to have a baby to raise,” he said.
Matt will have another scan at Vanderbilt in mid-June. Until then, they’re making the most of everyday.