Teen cancer survivor Matt Zender of Sayville excels as Stony Brook nursing major


The kid is all right.

What an understatement that is for Sayville’s Matt Zender. A third-year nursing major at Stony Brook University, the now young man recently became president of the Nursing Students’ Association of New York State (NSANYS).

Zender additionally serves as the Nursing Scholar’s representative to Stony Brook’s student nursing association and is also involved with the university’s Project Sunshine, which provides free social, recreational and educational programs to pediatric patients and their families.

The 2021 Sayville High School graduate is also building a strong portfolio as an outstanding sports photographer, assigned to work at Stony Brook football, lacrosse, hockey and cross country contests, as well as big games at his alma mater Sayville High School. Click here and visit @mattzenderphotgraphy/ to see what we’re talking about.

And amidst all this positivity is the best news of all: Zender is three years and five months post-chemo for the bone cancer that afflicted him as a teenager. He’s been cancer-free all that time.

Zender’s father Mark, a physician assistant at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, noted to GreaterSayville.com this week that his son’s experience as a patient at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital has inspired him to pursue pediatric oncology nursing.

“We are so very proud of him!!!” Mark Zender shared in an Aug. 30 Facebook post.

As president of NSANYS, Matt Zender sits on the council of the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA). His dad said that Zender is considering running for a national position with the association for his senior year at Stony Brook.

Expected to graduate in May 2025, Zender intends to work in a pediatric oncology unit and further his education, in nursing leadership.

In 2019, Zender was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer in his lower right leg. He underwent surgery on his leg and endured about a year of chemotherapy treatments. He rehabilitated in time to compete for his school’s varsity fencing team as a senior and finished near the top of his graduating class in June 2021.

Top photo: Stony Brook University nursing major Matt Zender (Source: Mark Zender).