Imagine you are 21 years old, already a concert pianist and a college senior on your way to film school. Now imagine, you wake up one day and your left hand is numb. Everything you have ever worked for and dreamed of is in jeopardy…and the doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with you.
This is Matthew Zachary’s story. It would have been understandable if Matthew had felt powerless to his diagnosis of brain cancer and the scary statistics of a 50/50 chance of survival. Instead, in typical MZ style, he took his experience and transformed it into an opportunity to help others.
As the CEO of StupidCancer, Matthew has and continues to be a trailblazer for young adult (YA) cancer survivors. He not only recognized the unique needs as well as the less available resources, studies, treatments and programs for YAs, he stepped up and generated a platform and a profile for them that is leading to significant change.
While there are many different tools and approaches YA cancer survivors can learn about and integrate to generate an increase in quality of life, during the recent Cancer Treatment Centers of America Western Regional 2013 Blogger Summit (link to be inserted), Matthew shared with us a piece of his own success formula for accessing his how to “get busy living.”
Anyone who has spent time at an OMG! Cancer Summit, listening to the Stupid Cancer Show’s radio broadcast (check out my appearance for free here on iTunes) or following Stupid Cancer and MZ (@StupidCancerCEO) in social media knows his call to action well…but it can sometimes be a call that ends up echoing down empty hallways in a survivor’s mind chased by the question “how”…“how do I get busy living?”
During the intro to an impromptu piano concert the attendees of the blogger summit were blessed to witness, MZ spoke about finding your anchor. “We each have one,” he noted. It’s up to us to find it, connect with it and use it to fuel ourselves with “getting busy living.” For MZ, his anchor is the playing of piano. As is common with that thing that so deeply connects us to our soul, music and playing is a source for Matthew.
As he continued to share about his own anchor being music, he took us on a journey into the past by choosing to play a song he wrote when he first sat down again at the piano after his treatments to see what might be possible.
More than seventeen years later, so much of what Matthewlost during treatment has been regained. Yet, instead of choosing to play the piece as he can today, he took us back to the early days of finding his anchor in the experience of creating music and recreated it as he played it back then. MZ and all he has created is not only anchored in his music, it is anchored in his work with Stupid Cancer.
MZ shared with us, “I decided I may never be a concert pianist but that I could do something.” His something is huge and I’m sure that he has become the anchor for so many who need a way to connect, speak out and find their own path to getting busy living.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you MZ as he recreates the early days of “Scribblings”. Thank you to CTCA for creating the space within which a moment like this could be generated…true inspiration.
Now, go find your anchor!