Christmas 2012 came five days early for South Decatur Junior/Senior High School choir director Matt Diehl.
A meeting with his oncologist Dec. 20 showed clear scans and no active cancer in the popular teacher, a diagnosis Diehl called “The best Christmas present I’ve ever had.”
That bit of immensely positive news paved the way for Diehl to return to work following a lengthy period of treatment and a necessary sabbatical from the school.
The news marked a turning point in a year that had been extremely challenging for Matt, his wife Lori and their three small children.
Matt’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent leave of absence from work early in the year was joined by Lori’s maternity leave, making difficult for the family to make ends meet.
The news got even worse in November when Lori’s van was robbed of all of the family’s Christmas gifts she’d spent “Black Friday” morning buying.
But things started to turn around for the Diehls soon after the robbery, as the family’s struggles made the news in Indianapolis and their story was featured in the Daily News in November.
Indianapolis Colts center Mike McGlynn helped reimburse the family for their losses when he heard of the break-in, and the generous player even called the Diehls after the team defeated the Buffalo Bills 20-13 at Lucas Oil Stadium Nov. 25.
The kindness displayed by McGlynn and several others after the unfortunate events faced by the Diehls emboldened the family and strengthened their faith. “It was another of those moments that kind of picked up our faith in humanity,” Matt told the Daily News last fall.
That faith was again bolstered with last month’s positive news concerning Matt’s cancer.
The choir director is now on a “five-year survival plan” that will include check-ups every three months, but in the meantime, it’s back to business as usual for Matt.
That business includes preparing his students for the upcoming solo ensemble contest and County Music Festival. Diehl and his students are also readying for a junior high and high school organizational contest in April as well as the Pops concert in May.
“I’ve been busy right off the bat, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way,” Diehl said Thursday morning.
Matt said he received “a warm welcome” upon his return to school earlier this month and mentioned his enthusiasm at getting to know the many new faces at South Decatur Junior/Senior High.
“It’s kind of like I never left, but also like I’ve been gone 10 years at the same time,” Diehl said describing his feelings upon his return.
The lone negative news in a sea of positive developments lately for the Diehls is a lack of progress in the break-in investigation.
Matt said neither he nor Lori had been notified of any arrests, though this was expected. Investigators with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said it would be highly unlikely for any of the items to be recovered due to the nature and time of the crime.
But that news is something the Diehls are more than happy to live with considering the circumstances of the last year. “We’re taking nothing for granted,” said Matt. “We definitely have a lot to be thankful for.”
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056