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Family seeks patches for Phoenix police officer battling rare condition

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Posted at 3:32 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-20 19:23:53-04

A Valley woman is making a plea to help her husband, a Phoenix police officer who is dealing with an unexpected and life-altering condition.

Stephanie Litman told ABC15 her husband, Matt, has been with Phoenix Police for the past two years and just recently turned 28 years old. The couple has two young boys, ages three years and 11 months.

"He's one of those guys who would give you the shirt off his back," Litman said.

Otherwise healthy, Litman said her husband noticed some back pain in January.

"He woke up one morning and...his upper back was hurting," she said. "He thought he just pulled something at the gym."

Litman said her husband started to see doctors trying to figure out what was wrong when suddenly one night he was unable to walk. She said Matt was ultimately diagnosed with a rare cancerous tumor known as a Grade IV astrocytoma in his spinal cord.

"When we were talking to his doctors, they said this isn't even a one in a million case," Litman said. "Like, they don't see this."

Litman told ABC15 Matt is now in a rehab facility and will undergo chemotherapy and radiation, although his exact outlook is unclear, as is the prospect of whether he will be able to walk again.

"It's happened so quick. Our lives have just been turned upside down," Litman said. "Especially his life, because he's fighting for it. We're best friends, so it's really hard not having him here."

Amidst a difficult journey, Litman said Matt is finding some solace in collecting patches from other law enforcement agencies. She said hundreds have been sent in from far and wide, often with notes of support.

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"The patches are really cool," Litman said. "A lot of them are so detailed and intricate, so he'll look through them, he'll read the letters, he gets emotional a lot of the time."

Litman is hoping agencies and officers from around the world consider sending a patch to her husband, reiterating how much it means to him. If his health improves and he can return home, she is hopeful the moment can be shared as a family.

"Our three-year-old, every time we get the mail, he's like 'patches for daddy!'" Litman said. "He likes looking at them too. I'm hoping that when he comes home it's something he can do with our son. Just, like, look through them and enjoy that together."

Matt's "Road to Recovery" is currently being documented on a Facebook group.

Patches can be sent to the following address:

Employee Assistance Unit
Patches for Officer Litman
620 W. Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85003