Matthew Zachary helps others with 'Stupid Cancer' by providing age-appropriate support
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HACKENSACK - A man diagnosed with brain cancer when he was just 21 years old is trying to help other young people who find themselves facing the disease.
Matthew Zachary says having cancer at any age is difficult, but finding the right treatment and emotional support is especially challenging for younger patients.
"I felt isolated, alone," Zachary says. "I really had no path. My friends and family were awesome, but there was nothing for me as a 21-year-old."
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After he was cured, he started Stupid Cancer, an organization specifically devoted to helping cancer patients between 18 and 39.
"Having to deal with anxiety, fear, depression, marriage, dating, parenting, fertility, insurance, careers is difficult enough in that age group," he says. "You need to meet people who are your age who get it."
Stupid Cancer links patients with treatment options as well as support groups.
Bridget Ryan joined, after being diagnosed with colon cancer at 26. "Getting treatment, the next youngest person was like 60," she says. "So I felt really alone, until I went to my first group of young adults and realized there are people who know what I'm going through."
Zachary and his co-founder are now driving across the country promoting awareness in 10 cities along the way, reminding young cancer patients that they aren't alone in their fight.
Stupid Cancer now has 44 chapters nationwide with hundreds of volunteers and countless members.