Matthew went by many names. He was called Teo by his family and Penni by his friends. He was the second son of Marlene Costales Kravitz and E. Justin Pennington. He was born 24 Nov 1978 and died 19 Mar 2016. He was married to Marie Liu for a short 3 ½ years. Besides his wife and parents, he is survived by his step-father, brother, 3 sisters, spouses of his siblings, a grandmother, grandfather, many aunts, uncles, cousins and a large family of friends.
Matthew made an impression on everyone he met. During Matthew’s fight with cancer many of his friends told his family how he had changed their lives. He was absolutely passionate about music and pushed people to expand their boundaries and comfort levels in music. He was also a gifted writer. He saw a story in everything. His favorite book in the Bible was the Book of Job. He said it was such a great story. He would rearrange the figures in his grandmother’s Christmas crèche to tell a different story every time he saw it.
In August 2015, Matthew started having back pain and blood in his urine, but didn’t see a doctor for a month. Because RMC is rare and unknown to most of the medical community, he was not diagnosed until 29 Jan 2016 when he had his left kidney removed. He was referred to an oncologist who referred Matthew to Dr. Tannir at MD Anderson. Unfortunately, the cancer was too aggressive. He died 7 weeks 5 days after his diagnosis.
Matthew had the ability to see the marginalized and teach them to embrace, that which made them unique. Thence more than 350 people attended his funeral. He touched so many lives. He loved his wife with all of his being and she filled all his empty spaces. What I, his mother, loved most about him and miss the most is he ability to see the positive in things most people miss. He taught us all to look at things in a different way.
We, as his family, would want the medical community to know that RMC has many colored faces. It is a danger to anyone who is a sickle cell trait carrier. Be tested, be aware, don’t wait. We also pray that not another life is lost to this devastating cancer.