On May 20, 2009, Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkins lymphoma. 28 years old and embarking on a new job with the mobile startup GOGII, Olanoff thought that his dreams were ending—at least, that’s what he thought for a minute or two. And then he did something first-rate: he decided to let cancer be the victim.
Enlisting the help of software developer Mike Demers, a friend who beat Hodgkins, Olanoff created BlameDrewsCancer, a web site that encourages people to blame anything and everything on his cancer. Fender bender? BlameDrewsCancer. Mullets? BlameDrewsCancer. Poodles? BlameDrewsCancer.
But why blame Drew’s cancer? As Olanoff says in his blog:
“I am trying to stay lighthearted and optimistic that since studies show that Hodgkins Lymphoma is 90% curable…I should do SOMETHING.”
And he has. By making the choice to shout at cancer instead of whisper about it, Olanoff has raised both awareness and funds. As of this writing, he had raised $3,000 for the American Cancer Society, $500 for Make-A-Wish, and $962 for LIVESTRONG, the foundation established by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, in 1997.
In a guest post on the LIVESTRONG blog, Olanoff says that LIVESTRONG’s support made him feel “alive and protected, and surrounded by heart.” And, thanks to BlameDrewsCancer, Armstrong had something to blame for the broken collarbone he suffered several weeks before the 2009 Tour de France.
The fame that comes from within reminds us that we have control over our perspective. We choose whether to focus on a 90% success rate or the other 10 percent.
Comedian Steven Wright jokes that he knows when he’s going to die because his birth certificate has an expiration date. The funniest thing about the joke—or the saddest—is that even if someone knew precisely when he was going to die, he’d be just as likely to put off doing the things that truly feed his spirit until he had “just enough” time left to do them.
Doctors sometimes hand out time-stamped diagnoses like they were library book due dates. If you’re not finished with the story by the posted date, you might be able to renew it, but if somebody else is waiting for it, you have to give it up. Those raised to follow doctors’ orders and institutional rules without question will accept this and let the story end right there.
The library imposes fines, but it does not send a militia to retrieve overdue materials. People who wake up famous keep their stories until they are finished, and they read them aloud for the benefit of others who are waiting.
What stories do you need to finish, start over, or rewrite altogether? More importantly, what’s keeping you from doing it? Name it, BlameDrewsCancer for it, and get on with living famously.
The opening image is from Thropic T-Shirts, a company that clearly gets real fame. For each BlameDrewsCancer t-shirt purchased, $8 goes directly to the LIVESTRONG/Lance Armstrong Foundation. You can also support LIVESTRONG by making a donation via Blame Drew’s Cancer Sponsorship Page.