Barry Watson aka "Matt" in 7th Heaven was definitely one of our favorite characters on the show. The 45-year-old actor appeared on the series from 1996 to 2006, and we were very used to seeing him on screen alongside co-stars like Catherine Hicks and Chaz Lamar, who played "Annie" and "John." However, at some point Barry decided to leave the show for a while and fans were really surprised. What exactly happened?

This is why the 7th Heaven star Barry Watson left the show

Back in the early 2000's the actor visited New York to promote his film Sorority Boys, where he claimed to feel extremely tired. "I was kind of certain that something was going on with my body," he said, according to CopingMag. A couple months later he discovered a lump in his neck and went to see a doctor to identify the exact cause of it. The next thing that happened was that he was diagnosed with stage IIB of Hodgkin's disease, a form of lymphatic cancer.

That's why in 2002 Barry Watson decided to take a leave of absence from 7th Heaven, where he had been playing his character for six years; fans all over the world started to send him their best wishes and prayers. Without hesitating, the Samantha Who? star found an oncologist and started chemotherapy every two weeks for six months; he was ready "to do whatever he needed to do to get the cancer out of his body." 

The reason why Barry Watson left 7th Heaven "made him who he is now"

Back in the day, his publicist said that both Barry and his doctor were "extremely optimistic about a full recovery." Good news is that Barry completed his last treatment in October 2002 and he has been cancer-free since then! Eventually he was able to reprise his role in 7th Heaven and started to appear on the show again for the 150th episode. 

The actor has admitted he often has mixed feelings while looking back at his cancer journey, "I wish I didn’t have to go through it. But there’s a big part of me that’s glad that I went through this experience because it’s made me who I am now, which is, hopefully, a better human being, a better dad, maybe even a better actor," said Watson a couple years ago.