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Saturday, July 18, 2009

I’m Too Young For This

It isn’t hard to spot the modern day social media heroes when you look beyond the blitz of self-proclaimed “online media moguls” amassing their hordes of “friends” and “followers” anxiously awaiting the next bathroom-break posting.

Last week, a few of us from Healthy Humans met one of those “real” heroes who not only has a remarkable personal story, but is touching the lives of many through an exploding grass roots movement.

His name is Matthew Zachery, and the organization he founded is called I’m Too Young for This [I2Y]. At age 21, Matthew was diagnosed with brain cancer. Many told the young concert pianist he’d never play again, let alone have much of a future. Now at age 35 and having survived his condition, he has built an amazing organization focused on young adults with cancer.

The first thing I saw when I walked into his office within the NYU campus was a poster that read:

Got Cancer?
Under 40?
Sucks, huh?

Get busy living!
The challenge that Matthew shared with us is that most cancer survivorship rates have gone up over the past few decades as technology has evolved, education has improved, and treatments become more diverse. Except in the young adult (18-39) demographic, where survivorship rates have remained unchanged for nearly 30 years!

I2Y helps young adults with cancer to connect, share, and tap into resources for topics like healthcare, dating, financial support, insurance, fertility, depression, and many others. They’re now promoted in over 200 cancer centers and 9 countries. I2Y groups are spontaneously cropping up all over the world. Matthew hosts a BlogTalkRadio show each week from his office/studio. The name of the radio show is Stupid Cancer and listener/subscriber rates are exploding as people tune in to Matthew’s brilliant blend of wit, humility, sarcasm, irreverence, and charming personality.

Wonder what someone like Matthew would do when told he would never perform classical music again? Well, besides starting I2Y and an underground movement that would make any open source enthusiast proud, he recently released a CD of his own compositions called Scribblings (available on iTunes) – 10 tracks of blissful tranquility.

It’s an honor to meet people like Matthew Zachary who really are “changing the world”.

Pictured is Matthew proudly displaying his “rack” of circa-1984 Macintosh computers.

2 comments:

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn said...

Matthew is indeed a special Healthy Human - one of those people put on Earth I think to disrupt, wake us up, shake us up...I am moved by his passion and commitment. So glad that you all met. You share that passion and are all working to Humanize the U.S. health system.

Matthew Zachary said...

Humbled and flattered. A true pleasure to be connected. Rock on!