He was a surfer, a rascal, a husband and a dad. Above all he was a soldier, an officer and a gentleman.
And Matthew Carr never stopped fighting.
During his teenage years the strapping dark-haired boy from Dubbo was known for his kindness and his cheeky sense of humour, which revealed itself with a broad smile and a sparkle that would light a fire across his eyes.
As he grew into a young man, Matt Carr also had a quiet, deep-seated confidence that he was destined for great things.
His poise and towering stature caused those around him to believe it, too. Deep down, Matt liked to know how things really ticked.
So it was not surprising that at the tender age of 16 he took up a scholarship to live and study in Japan to explore his passion for martial arts.
He would later reflect that this year away from his beloved family, including his cherished older sister Melissa, effervescent mum Marilyn and adored dad Bob, helped him develop the resilience and independence that he would one day need to fight the battle of his life.
After graduating from Dubbo South High School in 1995 - a year behind his peers on account of his time spent abroad - Matt trained at the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Royal Military College in Duntroon.
In 1998, he was commissioned as an officer in the Australian Army’s Royal Australian Armoured Corps and posted to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Darwin.
It was the beginning of a stellar professional career would take him on tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan.
To say Matt Carr had a zest for life was an understatement. He was rarely idle. He fished for barramundi, played rugby and competed in martial arts and boxing tournaments.
It was a huge shock then when he was diagnosed with advanced stage three testicular cancer in his mid-20s.
The disease had already spread through his lymphatic system and created a number of secondary malignant tumours in his abdomen, lungs and neck. In his biography, Battle Scars, published in 2009 to publicise that testicular cancer is a “young man’s cancer”, Matt described his own disbelief: “In January 2002 I was 26, 10-foot tall and bullet proof. Not only well-trained and well-prepared for war, I was looking for a fight. That same month I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I suddenly found myself in a battle that I had not been expecting. It was not the type of fight I had been hoping for”.
Amazingly, after two years of gruelling treatments and operations he was declared cancer-free and wasted no time making the most of life, travelling through China and deploying overseas with the army.
In 2008, in a day of great pride for all, Matt married the love of his life, Michelle Lane, in a fairy-tale wedding in Sydney.
Much to the relief of friends and family, the two childhood pals had given in to destiny and conceded that - despite an earlier love-hate relationship - they were indeed perfect for each other.
The young couple’s love shone brightly and was obvious to all at their celebrations.
Devastatingly, months later Matt’s cancer returned and during the past seven years he continued his determined fight while living life to the full.
Winning a Chief of Army Scholarship, Matt graduated from The Australian National University with a Masters in Applied Anthropology in July 2013. He was a father to two beautiful children, Mason and Monique, and he also gave his time to the Cancer Council, speaking at functions and sitting on an advisory panel to help communicate with men about cancer.
Matthew Carr passed away surrounded by his loved ones on January 31.
He is survived by his wife, Michelle Carr, their two children and extended families.
Those who would like to honour Matt Carr’s memory and continue his campaign to prevent other men having to fight a war on advanced cancer can purchase his book Battle Scars (see www.battlescars.com.au), or give a donation to Cancer Council NSW.
Source: Daily Liberal