An Unfiltered Conversation About Cancer with a Cancer Survivor


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Aug 30 2020 31 mins   6

Classically-trained concert pianist and film composer, Matthew Zachary, was about to graduate from college and attend film school when he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Twenty-five years later, he joins the podcast today to share his story as a brain cancer survivor, discuss what he’s learned along his journey, and explain how his podcast and nonprofit organization, Stupid Cancer, helps others who face a cancer diagnosis.

Tune in to learn:

  • How the idea and motivation behind Stupid Cancer came to Zachary long after his experience with a brain cancer diagnosis
  • What challenges are faced specifically by people in their teens and twenties who are diagnosed with cancer, and how Stupid Cancer aims to address these challenges (e.g. how brain cancer treatment can affect fertility and family planning)
  • What’s missing in the conversation about cancer, and how Zachary aims to supply it

“It didn’t really sink in that I was going to die, and I think that was just a good, natural thing to feel…I never really thought it was going to be anything, out of that invincibility complex…until I was cured…the scariest day, when I finally felt mortal, was when everything was over…then I was terrified,” says Zachary. He continues by explaining why he thinks he felt this way and what may have led him to enter remission.

After spending years in advertising and marketing, he discovered patient advocacy and people in their twenties, who just like him, had received a cancer diagnosis. Around the same time, he noticed a void in the space of cancer patient advocacy that he filled with what he wished he’d had when he was sick. “I built the brand and I built the community that I wish I’d had that really did resonate…and that serves a real niche purpose at the right time,” he says.

The mission of Stupid Cancer is to give a community to and be the voice of young adults facing cancer, and provide advocacy, research and support to advance a cure. He explains the unique needs and challenges of those who are in their twenties and facing a cancer diagnosis, and how Stupid Cancer addresses these needs and challenges. In particular, he discusses how fertility rights are intimately tied to cancer and the conventional treatments for it.

He also talks about what it means to change the conversation about cancer, so that it more directly and authentically addresses what goes on for the individual who experiences cancer—not what the doctors and academic and experts say about it.

If you’re looking for your community or just want to talk to someone about your condition or experience, Zachary recommends visiting https://themighty.com/ and https://www.talkspace.com/.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK