Former UHV golfer succumbs to cancer, teaches life lesson
March 28, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Updated March 28, 2014 at 10:29 p.m.
SHINER - Melanie Nevlud suggested her youngest brother chronicle his struggles against cancer.
Matt Pohler liked the idea and completed the first chapter after he had suffered a relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the rare form of cancer he had been diagnosed with in November 2012 while a student and member of the golf team at UHV.
Pohler's words were an indication of the faith and resolve with which he faced his affliction.
"I will not strive to monopolize the sympathy card," Pohler wrote. "He has chosen me for this. Now, it's time to fulfill His will."
Unbeknown to Nevlud and the rest of Pohler's family, he had written a second chapter, which they didn't discover until checking his computer after his death Tuesday at the age of 20.
Nevlud shared her brother's thoughts with those who filled Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church to capacity to recite a rosary Thursday evening. Many returned Friday for the funeral services.
Pohler's final chapter, which he titled "The Foundation," expressed his appreciation for his mother, Gerrie; father, Donald; sister Nevlud and brothers, Tristan, Wesley, Josh and Nick, and the rest of his family.
Pohler's sentiments came as no surprise to those who watched him grow up and graduate from Shiner High School in 2012.
He had a love for sports - playing basketball, baseball and golf in high school - to go along with his passion for hog hunting and fishing.
"What my family has experienced these last 16 months - especially this last week - has taught us what true strength is all about," Nevlud said. "And we learned that from the baby of the family."
Cole Strauss, who played Little League baseball with Pohler before becoming a classmate and teammate in high school, was not surprised by the courage his friend displayed.
"What Matt has allowed me and many others," Strauss said, "is that you can find light in the darkest room; you can smile amongst a pool of tears; you can change a life by putting worries and fears aside, instead focusing on faith and fortitude."
Pohler put aside the pain he experienced over his final weeks to express his love for his family.
"What makes her divine is the substance of her backbone," he said about his mother. "She has passion supported with an equivalence of rigidity and honor distinguished from impenetrable faith."
"He is my best friend, my inspiration and my dream keeper," he said about his father. "His experience and knowledge with the concept of life and our purpose here instills in this family a yearning that I believe propels us beyond our young years.
"One of the most influential aspects of my father's makeup is his competitive nature that runs true through this family of ours."
Pohler's competitive nature helped him score 45 points in three quarters in a Shiner basketball game, play first base with an acumen that earned him the nickname "Mr. Gadget" from his Shiner teammates because of his tall frame and qualify for the state golf tournament at Shiner and receive a scholarship from UHV.
"He had a strong desire to be the best in everything he did," said Shiner athletic director Steven Cerny. "I even told the girls today at softball practice. He was the toughest competitor, and not only that, he would outwork everybody - he practiced hard."
Pohler never quit in his battle against cancer and in the process left family and friends with a sense of inspiration.
"On that dreary November day in 2012 when all our lives did a 180 - as Matt has said, the boy we knew had become a man," Nevlud said. "We witnessed courage; we witnessed courage beyond years in someone so young. As he faced this monster called cancer, not once did he lay his burdens on any of us. He fought every day, even in his final breath.
"We were supposed to teach him. But in the end, he was the one who taught us."