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The Cost of Living: No Cure For Cancer

By       Message Matthew Zachary     Permalink
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Life is about choice.

Remission is not a cure.

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Survivorship is all the rage.


Why we fight...

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I remember the first time I sat down at a piano and asked my mother, 'Where do you put your fingers?" She showed me a simple five-note scale with both hands and, almost instinctively, I repeated with precision. The next words out of her mouth were, "You're getting lessons." At that point, I know music would always somehow be a part of my life.


I was 11 years old. It was 1985.


It wasn't until my third year of college until I realized that a true career in music was possible. My dreams of composing symphonies for film were drawing nearer with each semester. A trip to USC Film School in the spring of 1995 sealed the deal for me and I knew where my life was going, an energized and passionate neophyte with dreams bigger than himself.


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Someone once told me that if you want to smash your goals on the rocky shoals of intention, then simply tell God your plans. In retrospect, now 11 years later, that seems a double-edged sword. Truth to power.


Summer 1995: I was enjoying a paid summer internship for Dean Witter on the 68th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center when I first began to notice that my left hand was behaving strangely. (Growing up in New York City had many advantages but the opportunity to work for three months at this facility was a life-changing event for me, then 21.) It wasn't until I got back to school and begin playing piano again (upwards of 60 hours per week), that I noticed a major difference.

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Matthew Zachary was a 21-year old college senior and aspiring pianist/composer en route to film school when he slowly lost use of his left hand, was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer (medulloblastona) and told he'd likely never perform again. Eleven years, four albums and scores of concerts later, Matthew's struggle to get busy living has inspired countless thousands. Today, Matthew is an award-winning musician and composer, accredited thought-leader in public health, a leading authority on the youth cancer culture, a highly credentialed and coveted motivational speaker, and a burgeoning social entrepreneur with the 2004 launch of Steps For Living, a nonprofit social advocacy venture benefiting adolescents and young adults with cancer that seeks to create lasting change in how the public relates to and engages with the disease. A native of New York City, Matthew holds an interdisciplinary BA from the State University of New York at Binghamton that combined the music, theater, computer science, and sociology disciplines.

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