The Intelligence of Stupid Cancer

April 1, 2012
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One of my favorite Yiddish words is Chutzpah. It literally means gumption. And one of my favorite people with chutzpah is Matthew Zachary, the brain cancer survivor from New York City who founded the premiere organization for young adults with cancer – The I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation.

One of my favorite Yiddish words is Chutzpah. It literally means gumption. And one of my favorite people with chutzpah is Matthew Zachary, the brain cancer survivor from New York City who founded the premiere organization for young adults with cancer – The I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation.

Matthew is a savvy marketer. He uses that skill to get attention for a segment of the cancer population, as he has explained to me many times, that was too long overlooked and whose members felt detached and alone. Not anymore! This week more than 600 young adults in this community are gathering in Las Vegas for the fifth annual OMG! Cancer  Summit. In typical Matthew style the event is irreverent and alternately fun as well as serious. Matthew and his small team, and volunteers from coast to coast, have the pulse of this age group. Yes, one common denominator is that they have cancer, but as young adults they see it very differently than baby boomers or parents of little kids.

Matthew also does an Internet radio show called Stupid Cancer. It’s been his platform to raise awareness, funds and build community. Because of his passion, boundless energy and yes, chutzpah, young adults with cancer are now “on the map.” Witness the recent movie “50/50.” Recently a story about this group was on the CBS Evening News, there have been numerous articles, and – because this is the product of a very media savvy generation – there are endless videos. Stupid Cancer’s most recent video series is hosted by Kenny Kane, their vice-president of operations, as they made a “Stupid Cancer Road Trip” from New York to Las Vegas for the summit. Is it a downer, about cancer? No way! It’s a fun celebration. And that’s what is so positive about what Matthew and his team have created. It’s upbeat, hip, yet realistic. And it’s not at all shy and retiring. Rather than the style of many advocacy groups where they are careful what they say so as not to offend or rabble rouse, Stupid Cancer does just the opposite and it’s pushed this cancer age group way out in front.

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My hat is off to my friend Matthew, confident his fifth annual OMG! Cancer Summit in “Vegas Baby!” will be a resounding success. And the afterglow will continue to help young adults with cancer know they are not alone and deserve just as much attention – and cures – as anyone else.

Wishing you the best of health and as much passion as Matthew!

Andrew