Did you see the viral video of the young adult cancer fighter who asked out 50/50 star Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Youtube? Find out what really happened and how she's doing now.
My friend Lindsey has cancer. She is 25.
Lindsey and I worked together at Ragan Communications, a publishing company, for about a year. She sat in the cubicle across from me. We would ride bikes to work together, eat lunch outside when it was warm, and see improv shows over the weekend.
Our conversations centered on what two typical twenty-somethings would talk about: work, vacations, cooking, shopping, parties, Chicago, and boys. I don't think we ever talked about cancer. There was never any reason to.
Last fall, Lindsey moved back to her home state of California to go to graduate school for urban planning. A few months after she moved out there, she called to tell me she had pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer.
At the time, I didn't know what the words "pancreatic neuroendocrine" meant.
But I knew the word "cancer." I just didn't know anybody my age--or someone I was friends with--could have it.
Lindsey started a blog about being young and having cancer. She sent the link to a group of people and said, "Just because it's about cancer doesn't mean it's depressing."
And really, her blog isn't depressing. She still sounds like the Lindsey I know.
Perk of having cancer and living in LA: I got to see 50/50 tonight. For free. Nine days before it comes out. 50/50 is the new cancer comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen. It's weird that I consider this a perk--as if paying $12 for a movie ticket is worse than having cancer.
A taste of Hollywood
The more I thought about Lindsey, the more I missed her.
I decided it was time to visit.
Before my trip, Lindsey said she wanted to go out on a date with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
We've our combined knowledge of writing about how companies make viral videos, we decided to make one of our own. In it, she briefly explains her situation--and then asks out a movie star.
We created the 30-second video on a Monday evening. At 10 p.m., we had 45 views. The next evening, we've had more than 85,000 views.
On Tuesday morning, an executive producer from Anderson Cooper's new daytime show, "Anderson" emailed Miller and asked for an interview. The video went on to spark media coverage, including The Huffington Post, International Business Magazine, MSNBC and Entertainment Weekly, EOnline, The Next Web, PerezHilton.com. The social media site Reddit also picked up the video, drawing nearly 500 comments and counting.
And by Tuesday afternoon, Will Reiser, writer of "50/50," emailed Lindsey. Reiser said he would pass along her request to Gordon-Levitt, but not to be disheartened if she doesn't hear back right away, Reiser, who also has cancer, told Lindsey he was glad she enjoyed the movie.
No date, but something better...
Even with all the media attention, she never heard back from JGL.
But really, it doesn't matter.
Here's what does: After Lindsey's video went viral, a lot of people asked how they could help her. We set up a fundraising tab on her blog, along with a Give Forward account to get people involved.
From the kindness of strangers on the Internet, she raised $10,000 to pay for her medical bills.
I'll let Lindsey express her gratitude, in her own words:
It's easy to get the idea from living in and driving around LA that human beings, particularly the ones who drive around LA, are rude, unforgiving, frenzied, and sometimes, just plain mean. I think without my realizing it, this experience on the roads has expanded to color my perception of LA, and of people in general. When I was first diagnosed and realized that I wouldn't lose my hair from treatment, this was one of my first thoughts--that the mean people of LA would treat me just as meanly as they always had despite the fact that I was now sick, and emotional, and constantly contemplating serious questions, and that, basically, the world as I knew it was shifting under my feet.
I feel a little differently now.
I still think driving in LA breeds meanness from even the nicest people (this is one of the reasons why I don't drive), but I don't think the rude, unforgiving, frenzied, mean attitude that people adopt on the roads here is in any way representative of the population of LA--or of the world--as a whole.
My experience over the past few months is a great example. All I did was post a stupid video and continue to write honestly and prolifically about my experience living with cancer. You all have come out--and keep coming out--to read what I write. You write me thoughtful comments. You write me nice and long and sincere emails. You give me hugs and encouragement and emotional support. You draw me pictures. You sing me songs. You take me out to dinner or to lunch or to coffee.
You send me amazingly generous donations.
I am still blown away. The phrase "thank you" does not quite have enough words to encompass how grateful I am for your support. I definitively don't feel deserving of your generosity--it seems so much bigger than what i'm doing with this blog. There are so many causes to support, yet you choose to support mine. I am just some weird girl from the Internet who has cancer. Millions of weird girls from the Internet have cancer. Millions of people in general have cancer and other serious health problems. And yet when I asked for help with my medical bills and insurance premiums, you answered. My Give Forward campaign ended on New Year's Eve, with 41 percent of my $10,000 goal. This 41 percent, along with a few incredibly generous private donations from friends and strangers given behind the scenes, has brought my total to just slightly above that $10,000 goal. When I set that goal, I thought it was ambitious. Clearly I was wrong. This will more than cover my medical expenses for this year.
Dealing with the financial and insurance aspects of this disease have been almost more stressful for me than having the disease itself. So, in addition to covering my medical expenses, these donations are guaranteed to lower my stress level, and just make everything a little bit easier on me and my family going forward.
On a more macro level, you have also helped me recolor my perception of people in general. People aren't their cars or their honks or their yells on the streets of LA. People are nice. When I become a planner maybe I will be able to help people feel less frustrated by the streets and the traffic. Or maybe I will be able to help shape health policy in this country so massive donation campaigns are no longer necessary to keep a person with cancer alive and taking their medications and doing what their doctors say. Either way--I will keep blogging honestly.
You will still see the Donate link at the top of my page. I continue to accept donations via PayPal. Liver transplants aren't cheap.
And as for Lindsey's dating life?
Even though she's not dating a celebrity, let's just say that she's having a lot of fun.