MATT MARTINEZ–The Santa Fe New Mexican June 21, 2018- dubbed the “Nine Lives Man”

Update posted by FRIEND OF MATT and JESSICA MARTINEZ On Jun 25, 2018

RIO RANCHO — Matthew Martinez has spent the past 21 years in and out of hospitals, beating the diagnoses that told him he would not survive another year.

The 47-year-old moves stiffly from the remnants of his medical conditions. His left arm has been turned into a mountainous landscape from a surgically implanted fistula, an artificial tube that provides a passage for treatment of his failing kidneys. His right arm is carved from cancer treatment, showing where cancer cells had to be removed. On the back of his right hand, auburn traces are imprinted on his skin like faded tattoos where his veins were burned from chemotherapy.

He has a shelf of 14 bottles of pills, each medication ranging from $1.25 to $948.

“I have a pharmacy, I tell you,” he says.

Despite the odds and his need for care, Martinez — who grew up in Pecos and now lives in Rio Rancho after residing in Santa Fe for five years —is making the most of the life he has been given with a positive attitude.

“All I can do is pray and move forward,” he says. “Worrying doesn’t do anything.”

A staff member at Donate Life, an organ-transplant support organization, dubbed Martinez the “Nine Lives Man” after he survived non-Hodgkin lymphoma and three relapses, plus survived a bone marrow transplant, five years of dialysis and even a kidney transplant at the beginning of this year.

Doctors through the years have told him he would die before seeing the seasons change, but Martinez has continued on, day by day, with a positive attitude.

“I always try to keep going forward,” Martinez says. “My grandma told me you always have to live with the life you’re given.”

Martinez’s grandparents raised Martinez and his brother, Dana Benavidez. Martinez says they gave him the strength and faith to face his obstacles. He says that when he was first diagnosed with cancer, his grandmother, Fabiola Benavidez, told him, “ ‘Leave it in God’s hands. Don’t be a coward.’ ”

While Martinez estimates he has spent more than $1 million dollars on his health over two decades and countless hours enduring not only treatment but the often nauseating and mind-fogging aftereffects, he says he isn’t resentful.

“You appreciate life,” Martinez says. “No matter what you’re going through, someone is going through something worse.”

His journey began in 1997, when at the age of 27, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He says it was more difficult for him at the time because everything was new and scary.

In 2000, he received a bone marrow transplant. A few years later, he started on dialysis for his kidneys, which were damaged from chemotherapy. In January, he had a kidney transplant.

By now, he not only understands hospital routines and medical terms, but he understands the attitude you bring is everything.

“You’re already down and out; why make it worse?” he says. “It doesn’t help the situation.”

Martinez married his wife, Jessica Martinez, in 2011. Together, he says, they work as a team — getting through each new hurdle.

Jessica Martinez works to support the household as a paralegal in Santa Fe while her husband undergoes treatments. She says her husband always puts on a smile and never gets down, even if she can tell he isn’t feeling well.

“His spirits are always high,” she says. “He is this bright shining star.”

The two actually lived near each other growing up in Pecos but didn’t socialize. They met again in 2009 through a mutual friend, and Jessica Martinez says they started helping each other from day one.

“I didn’t look at him as a sick person, but as a genuine person,” she says.

After going to hospitals so frequently, Martinez and his wife have a deeper understanding of the procedures and have had to speak out about the treatment.

“You have to advocate for yourself,” Jessica Martinez says. “You’re the patient, and they need to know your side.”

The Martinezes have two adult children from Jessica’s previous marriage and say they look toward an empty-nester future with hope and excitement. Matthew Martinez says he keeps himself occupied during his treatment, working on a book about his family or maintaining cars or getting an associate degree. While he cannot indulge his passion for motorcycles anymore, his wife says he still finds ways to follow his heart.

“He never gives up,” she says. “He’s my hero.”

Martinez continues to recover from his kidney transplant, but he was told he is cancer-free for the moment. The future, as it has been for decades, is uncertain. But he says he is full of hope and will continue on with a smile.

“We could do anything,” he says. “Just got to try.”

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Backed On May 11, 2018 Amount Hidden


Jessica and Matt, wishing you and your family Faith and strength wrapped in Hope during this tough time....Con Carino y Bendiciones


Backed with $105.00 On May 10, 2018



Backed with $500.00 On Apr 29, 2018


Jerrica Gallegos

Backed with $30.00 On Apr 07, 2018


Prayers sent your way 🙏🏻

Roselynn Perez

Backed with $40.00 On Apr 06, 2018


Sergio Martin

Backed with $100.00 On Apr 06, 2018


So happy all went well Matt and Jessica, if you guys need anything please let me know! ❤️

Isidro Gonzales

Backed with $50.00 On Apr 04, 2018


Candace Hernandez (Varela)

Backed with $20.00 On Apr 03, 2018


Jess & Matt: Best wishes on a speedy recovery. God bless you both and may he guide & watch over your healing/health.

Rachel Rodriguez

Backed with $50.00 On Feb 22, 2018



Backed On Feb 08, 2018 Amount Hidden

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Rachel Rodriguez

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