Drew Olanoff’s cancer story began like many others: he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, and his life was changed forever. Figuring out what to do right after diagnosis can be emotional, not to mention overwhelming; there are family members to talk with, appointments to make, professional logistics to work out, and your own feelings to examine.
He’s been described as ‘a social media activist,’ on more than one occasion, because of how much awareness and money he’s raised online with social media tools. He and Drew Carey took Twitter by storm, and recently, Ben Huh of ICanHazCheezburger bought tattoo real estate on his body for $4K, with every cent going to Livestrong. This guy knows how to network.
Drew’s story is important, because he’s showing people – cancer patients, advocates, care teams, supporters – how to engage in new ways. Through easy social platforms that anyone can use, and two feet firmly planted in the ‘advocacy’ and ‘fundraising’ camps, he’s shown us that anything is possible.
People are using the internet to their advantage when it comes to stuff like this: engaging their networks, finding ways to go viral, getting people involved, going public with their cancer battles (or any battle at all), and raising money for causes they believe in. Donation through action and leading by example is free to everyone, but Drew is showing us how to do it quickly and effectively.
A big thank you to Drew for taking the time to be interviewed!
How long after diagnosis did you brainstorm the idea for #BlameDrewsCancer?
I started blaming my cancer before I was officially diagnosed as a way to cope with what was maybe coming. Right after diagnosis I decided I’d do the site.
You were diagnosed in May 2009, and now you’re done with treatment. Name some of the things you’ve seen or done in the past nine months that would have seemed crazy to you ten months ago.
Drew Carey’s house, 25k people supporting me through my worst days. And love from the strangest most unexpected places.
Everyone is changed by their experience with cancer. In what ways do you feel you’ve changed for the better?
It’s too soon to even answer that. I’m changed, and I’m still trying to catch up with my “newer” self.
The internet was/is your not-so-silent partner-in-cancer. What were the ways it helped you through the journey, from diagnosis to survivorship?
Being connected, not being alone, being allowed to vent, cry, laugh. With nobody judging me.
How did you navigate your own care, and how did you stay organized through the fog?
Friends helped me through it. Great drs and nurses. My mom. Plus adrenaline, and some divine intervention.
What is the most important philosophy you live by?
Failure is not an option.
What bands or books were your companions through the last nine months?
The band Stroke 9, Dave Matthews Band, Joe Purdy. Couldn’t read books, just couldn’t concentrate.
Have you read through all the things that your cancer has been blamed for? Do you have any favorites?
The band Nickelback.
What opportunities are on the horizon that you’re looking forward to pursuing or participating in?
2 books, one being a children’s book. Speaking, educating and helping others. Spending more time with the people who matter, and never taking anything for granted.
Share a favorite quote:
I love quotes and that’s a site I launched after cancer, it was a brainchild of mine for 3 years. If you’d like to join, use the code drew.
To follow Drew on Twitter: @thatdrew