At OncoSec, we believe it’s important to highlight those striving to fight against cancer. We especially like to share stories about inspiring cancer survivors who have helped to raise awareness, to educate others about cancer risk, and who have raised funds or started cancer advocacy initiatives of their own. In our ongoing Inspiring Cancer Survivors series, we would like to present you with volume two: three amazing youth cancer survivors who have helped others through cancer.
Doug Ulman has become one of the world’s most recognized cancer advocates. As a three-time survivor of the disease – once was chondrosarcoma (sophomore year of college) and the other two being malignant melanoma (Source: LIVESTRONG) – cancer has affected Doug’s life and that of his family members more than most people. It is with that influence that his family founded the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults: an organization he acted as executive director of, until joining LIVESTRONG.
With a huge following on social media and many international philanthropy awards and acclaimed speaking engagements under his belt, Doug actively engages with cancer patients, advocates, healthcare professionals and other philanthropists from around the globe. As a group, LIVESTRONG has managed to become one of the most recognizable cancer charities, creating many programs, initiatives and connections for empowering patients and cancer survivors, while bringing people together. As they put it, LIVESTRONG “provide[s] support to guide people through the cancer experience, bring them together to fight cancer – and work for a world in which [their] fight is no longer necessary.”
When Matthew Zachary was diagnosed with brain cancer, he was only 21 years old. He was told he likely would not live six months and would never perform again. Being a concert pianist and composer of such a young age, Matthew and his family began a hard battle. In 1995 – the year Matthew was diagnosed – there were few groups whose mandate was to support, educate and connect young cancer patients and survivors. In part, thanks to Matthew’s determination, their numbers have steadily grown.
As a survivor of youth cancer, Matthew founded Stupid Cancer (originally named Steps for Living): a non-profit organization that “empowers young adults affected by cancer through innovative and award-winning programs and services” (Source: Stupid Cancer). These programs include The Stupid Cancer Show – an international web radio show – and the OMG! Cancer Summit: an annual oncology conference for those involved in the youth cancer landscape. Through their efforts, Matthew and Stupid Cancer have been able to help educate many young people, while helping to raise awareness around the imperative issue of youth cancer and encouraging cancer survivors.
Diagnosed with non-hodgkin lymphoma and given only three months to live, while still in his twenties, Chris Geiger began a two-year battle that would change his life. When he was diagnosed, Chris hunted for books by people who had gone through cancer treatment but could only find ones ghost-written for celebrities. What he wanted was real descriptions of treatment and how people fought through the disease. Chris was convinced that “being positive and having the distraction of writing every day got [him] through [his] treatment” (Source: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society).
Since that time, Chris has written many local, national and international columns – including a Guinness World Record for “Most Published Newspaper Article” – as well as his book: The Cancer Survivors Club. The book offers many stories from those who have lived through cancer, in an attempt to inspire, motivate and educate others on the hardships and uplifting moments of diagnosis, treatment and beyond. With a down-to-Earth approach and a wealth of stories – along with Chris’ own experiences – the book offers many unique perspectives that can aid any cancer patient or survivor.
At OncoSec, we feel very fortunate to come across so many amazing cancer survivors. We will continue to work within the community, in order to help raise awareness and inspire others, while researching treatment options for late-stage skin cancers. If you have an inspiring survivor you would like to see mentioned, please let us know on Facebook or Twitter. Join our online community and share!