Zach Lederer had just come out of surgery to remove a brain tumor, when he struck the now famous “Zaching” pose. He wanted to let his friends and family know that the cancer hadn’t beaten him, and they didn’t need to worry. Little did he know it would turn into a worldwide phenomenon.
Zach, an 18 year-old University of Maryland student (big shout out to the Terps!) was first diagnosed with having a brain tumor in 2004 when he was only 11 years old. The battle, which was thought to be over, returned to his life last December. The doctors found a new brain tumor, which meant for Zach it was time to start fighting again. This photo, originally taken by Zach’s Dad to show his friends and family that he was doing okay, went viral in a matter of weeks. It has been seen on news channels nationwide, and he was even featured on ESPN’s College Game Day (Check the video out here).
I had the opportunity to ask Zach himself a couple of questions, and let me tell you, this guy is nothing short of an inspiration. When asked what he wants to come from Zaching, he said “my message would be to not only fight the battle and be strong, but to support everyone else who is going through a similar situation. Everyone is affected by cancer in some way or another and they all need your support.” His goal is to spread awareness for all different types of cancer. As much as we see support for certain types of this disease, there are many patients who aren’t getting the support they need.
Zaching has caught on by celebrities (even Lil’ Wayne is doing it), athletes, coaches, and more. Zach’s favorites, however, are the ones of patients in the hospital because it means they received the support, and are passing it on to others as they battle cancer. I think we all need to take a lesson from Zach and anyone else battling cancer or a life-threatening illness. We complain about our day-to-day activities like work and school, yet these people are sitting in hospitals, going through treatments, and just trying to survive on a daily basis. On top of dealing with all of that, Zach has become an inspirational icon with this “Zaching against Cancer” sensation.
Having just finished his third round of chemo, Zach amazes doctors with his ability to work out every day, maintain an appetite, and overall just try to live a normal life. In three weeks he will start radiation, and from there he will continue with another round or two of chemo. This 18-year-old wonder has been through more than most people go through in a lifetime, and he still finds the time and energy to hang out with friends, stay active, and inspire others.
“I am motivated by the kids my age and younger who show so much courage and strength as they fight this disease. These kids are the strongest people that I have ever seen. I strive every day to fight as hard as they do,” Zach said. Everyone needs to find their inspiration and motivation, but it really takes a true hero to be able to donate it forward. Every day he tells himself “get busy living or get busy dying.” If that’s not tough love motivation, I don’t know what is.
One of Zach’s favorite quotes: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” ~Jackie Robinson