Matthew Zachary, a 25-year cancer survivor and founder of Stupid Cancer, didn’t always know what it meant to be a cancer advocate, or the complex and rich history behind the term.
He’s hoping to shine a light on the robust history of the survivorship movement through a docu-series podcast, “The Cancer Mavericks: A History of Survivorship,” which explores cancer activism from the 1930s onward.
“This is all being done in the lens of a pseudo semi-autobiographical way, where I’m kind of reacting to history, and observing history, and forecasting the future,” Zachary, who narrates the podcast, said to The Cancer Letter. “What advocacy meant in the sixties is very different from what it means today, and will be very different from what it will mean 10 years from now.”
Zachary focuses on the Bernie Fishers of the world, doctors who changed the face of medicine despite putting their reputations at risk and facing backlash.
“I think it just takes a specific kind of person, who either has the gumption out of the gate, or is pissed off just enough to realize that they can do something so radical, so counterintuitive, as to believe it’s possible to change something that is just seemingly immovable in that space,” he said. “Whether it is one doctor saying ‘I’m changing medicine, I don’t want to do this anymore, we need to reinvent the way we think about oncology writ large for the next hundred years,’ and end up chastised and reputationally lambasted for their radical thinking that people should be treated like people.”
Episodes will be released monthly through the end of December 2021 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the National Cancer Act of 1971.