Former Army Ranger tread through high waters during Hurricane Harvey for cancer surgery

Former Army Ranger, Matt Meloni, walked through chest deep water to get to cancer surgery during Hurricane Harvey. (courtesy: Matt Meloni)

Hurricane Harvey impacted a lot of people in the Texas gulf area, but a former army ranger trenched through the storm waiting for a scheduled surgery and had no way to get to the hospital.

Former army ranger, Matt Meloni, has been through some trying times. He's served our country for more than four years, passed the Oklahoma bar exam this Friday, and he also passed his first three bar exams, becoming licensed to practice in New York, Massachusetts and Arizona about a decade ago. But recently, Meloni made a 2-mile walk to the VA hospital in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.

“It was just slow moving because you're going through high water and my appendix was burst. So I was moving a little slower. It just kind of became a time warp,” said Meloni.

Meloni moved to Oklahoma for a job at a law firm, but was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. His focus was passing the Oklahoma bar exam.

“I didn't have time for cancer,” Meloni said. “So pressed pause on that. Tried not to think about.”

But, he still had to address his treatable prostate cancer. He had a pre-surgery appointment in Houston August 25 and surgery August 28th. He hunkered down at a hotel in Houston. That’s when Hurricane Harvey made its path of destruction. Meloni had no idea his appendix had burst during that chaos.

“I thought I just had a stomach ache. So I waited for the next day, but I couldn't sleep,” said the former ranger. “My pulse was really high. I was having palpitations and I started getting confused.”

No cars in sight and flooded streets, Meloni knew he had to find a way to the VA. So he asked the front desk for a pair of scissors and a clear plastic bag. That's when his former army ranger training kicked into gear.

“I wrote my route down on paper. I put the paper in a square of garbage bag I cut out. Folded the garbage bag on top of it, sealed the edges with tape. I now have a laminated route plan good to navigate with,” said Meloni.

To pass the time, Meloni said he sang ranger songs in his head during that 2-mile stretch to the hospital.

“It was stay in the hotel and die or ranger up and go to the hospital. So I went through the water,” said the former ranger.

He said he was able to endure walking through chest deep water, sewage and debris because of the army.

“It's not like I have some special thing; anyone sprinkled magic leadership dust on me. It was all ranger training,” Meloni said.

Meloni told FOX 25 the doctors successfully performed surgery on him in Houston, but his journey with cancer isn't done. He's headed back down to Houston Sunday for another surgery on Monday; which was delayed because his appendix burst.

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