Fergus Falls cancer patient celebrates birthday by testing for Black Belt in Kumdo

Image provided by Leighton Media
Image provided by Leighton Media

(Fergus Falls, MN) -- Matthew Hauge of Fergus Falls celebrated his 30th birthday a day early by testing for his Black Belt in Kumdo, while surrounded by friends and family.

Matthew has been fighting an Osteosarcoma diagnosis since September 2022, when he found out that the pains he had been feeling since May and that had made it difficult for him to walk, were not from back issues like was previously thought.

The tumor was located in his left hip bone, which it eventually eroded and broke.

Matthew began chemotherapy treatments shortly after being diagnosed, but the cancer had already grown significantly.

In late March of 2023, Matthew underwent surgery to remove the cancer, which involved amputating his left leg, hip, and the left side of his pelvis.

After the surgery, Matthew was considered cancer free, and there was nothing abnormal to see in his scans.

Over the next few months, he went through rehab to learn how to live without his leg, was fitted for a prosthetic, and received a couple more rounds of chemotherapy just in case.

However, in August of 2023, Matthew's scans not only showed that the cancer had returned, but that it had coated his lungs, and was now considered terminal.

Since then, Matthew and his family have been continuing to fight and spend this precious time together.

Throughout all his trials, Matthew has had his martial arts training to help him persevere.

Matthew has been a student of The Master's Martial Arts Academy, a Greenquist Academy school, since 2009, and has earned his 3rd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.

Along with Taekwondo, he has always been very passionate for the art of Kumdo.

As Matthew's journey has hit it's lows, the Masters at Greenquist worked hard to adapt his training to his new reality as an amputee, and prepare him for his Black Belt Test in Kumdo.

They set Matthew's test for February 10th, 2024, the day before his 30th birthday.

Not only that, but they also broke normal traditions for testing by allowing his family to be there and take part in his big accomplishment.

After proving his techniques and facing each one of the Regional Directors, Matthew was awarded his certificate stating that he had earned his Black Belt in Kumdo by the 9th Degree Grand Master of Greenquist Academy, Eric Greenquist.

The whole room was filled with the energies of excitement, joy, and pride for the victory of such a battle-worn warrior.

In a statement, Grandmaster Greenquist said, "The true Martial Arts practice is compared to 'climbing the mountain.' A martial artist never gives up or stops climbing - even when we're sliding backwards.... we keep climbing. Eventually we will reach the top of that mountain, through all the difficulties along the way - and now from the top of that mountain... we are able to see the 'bigger mountain' in the distance.... and continue our climb. Mr. Matt is an outstanding example of this lifetime climb; never giving up, and keeping up the fight. We are so proud of you Mr. Matt."

Matthew's little sister and 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo Marinda Pfingsten accompanied him as one of the many martial arts members present to watch and support him, as his parents Mark and Cindy Hauge, his niece Luna Pfingsten, and multiple extended family members watched from the sideline.

With this peak conquered, Matthew will continue to climb his mountain, as he assists Master Doug Gray in the Kumdo class at The Master's Martial Arts Academy, located at the Fergus Falls YMCA. 

(This story was submitted by our friends at Leighton Media)