For more than a decade, Mathew Blades’ distinctive voice filled the airwaves every morning in households across greater Phoenix.
The award-winning DJ for Mix 96.9 had hosted “Mathew & Priscilla in the Morning” alongside Priscilla Ornelas since 2010.
Known for his quick wit, approachable style and honest conversation, Blades had become a household name and fan favorite across the Valley.
His retirement in October 2021 capped a 27-year radio career at stations across the nation – but his life was only just beginning.
In a letter to fans posted on iHeartRadio’s website – and with the honesty and openness for which he was known – the 45-year-old Blades gave listeners a sense of what to expect from him in years to come.
“I’m working on a passion project for mental and spiritual health, a movement we’ll call #LearnFromPeopleWhoLivedIt,” he wrote. “You are not broken. There is nothing wrong with you. You just have yet to step into your life’s purpose. I’m committed to those words now, and must step into a new chapter of my life to fulfill them.”
Nineteen months later, Blades is sharing his story with others in the hopes they’ll step into their own purpose.
A core part of his story is the trauma he experienced at 23 when his father died of a heart attack right in front of him.
“It’s hard to express what it’s like to watch that happen to your dad and not be able to do anything to save him,” said Blades. “I didn’t really deal with the trauma at that time.
“I was new in my radio career and threw myself into my work. I just could not cope with it at the time.”
Two decades later, he has finally confronted the tragedy and the scars it left on his mental and emotional health. It’s been grueling work – but absolutely worth it.
"My 'why' is that I don’t want my kids to watch me die," said Blades, a father of two teenage boys. “I know this sounds really aggressive, but it’s the truth and it’s what drives me.”
Indeed, Blades’ “why” drove him to seek medical care for his own heart. Though only 45 – and despite his healthy lifestyle – he panicked every time he felt under the weather.
Blades turned to Dr. Robert Todd Hurst, cardiologist and founder of HealthspanMD, a Phoenix preventive cardiology clinic that brings together comprehensive, actionable health guidance with science-based medical treatment to help reverse chronic diseases in at-risk patients.
Hurst and his medical team treat lifestyle conditions – like heart disease, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver – through personalized care plans, not just prescriptions and procedures.
Despite a healthy diet and regular exercise, Blades learned he was already showing signs of early heart artery disease.
Hurst performed advanced testing, which revealed a genetic issue called Lp(a). An inherited issue, it can cause plaques in many of the arteries and aortic valve and may lead to a heart attack, stroke or sudden death.
What’s worse, it affects a full 20% of the population – yet the condition is rarely tested for.
“I’m extremely grateful Dr. Hurst picked up the subtle signs and knew to test for this condition,” said Blades.
And though the treatment for Lp(a) – a statin medication – is simple and straightforward, it is also lifesaving.
In receiving the right medical care for his heart, Blades is also confronting the trauma he experienced in the wake of his father’s death.
“I don’t have to worry that what happened to me will happen to my boys,” Blades said. “Dr. Hurst told me we’ve removed that from the equation. The relief I feel is beyond words. I can finally put those fears to rest.”
Today, Blades is imparting strength, wisdom and compassion through his “I NEEDED THAT” podcast, “Learn from those Who Lived It” broadcast and numerous other projects in the works. Post-retiremevnt, he’s busier – and happier – than ever.
If he could offer one piece of advice?
“Get your health in order. Don’t stay away from the doctor because you’re afraid of what you’ll find out. Visit your primary care doctor or call up Dr. Hurst and get to the bottom of it. You deserve it.”
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