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"Cancer survivor to be featured in book, 'Today Show'"

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Casey Sapio | The Daily Wildcat Casey Sapio / Daily Wildcat

Zac York has been in remission for nine years after being diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 12. After 17 surgeries and several years of treatment, York will appear Monday on the ""Today Show"" to share his experiences.


York, a creative writing senior, is one of 20 college-aged people featured in the book ""Perseverance"" by Carolyn Rubenstein. The book is a collection of stories about their journeys surviving childhood cancer.

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Rubenstein met York when he applied for a scholarship through her foundation, Carolyn's Compassionate Children, which provides scholarships to cancer survivors who face difficulties in their pursuit of a college education.


York said there is not much about his struggle left out of the book. Rubenstein has been working with him and 19 other survivors for the past four years to get their stories for her book. York said he believes the story to be told mostly through his point of view, although he hasn't seen a copy yet.


The book hit shelves Aug. 18, and all proceeds from sales will go to charity, Rubenstein said. Fifty percent will go to her foundation and the other 50 percent will go to the Chordoma Foundation, a foundation dedicated to research on chordoma, a rare form of cancer that currently has no treatment.


Rubenstein became inspired to help children with cancer when she was 13 and volunteered at Camp Sunshine, a summer camp for sick children. She decided to write ""Perseverance"" because she wanted to share with others the lessons she learned through her work with these children.


The book doesn't focus on the treatments of the survivors it features, but rather their journeys and how they changed their perspectives on life, she said. Each story is different. Some, like York's, are told mostly through the eyes of the patient, but others include more input from family and friends, Rubenstein said.


York said he is flying out Sunday for only 22 hours to appear on the ""Today Show"" Monday morning. The program begins at 7 a.m. and York will appear around 10:30 a.m. He will talk about the book with Rubenstein and another featured survivor, Colleen Clyder from Chicago.


York said he has some experience in public speaking about his struggle with cancer. He has spoken at events like Relay for Life and been on local TV stations before, but this will be his first appearance on national television.


Rubenstein said she called York to be on the ""Today Show"" because his story is incredibly moving and he's funny and relatable.


""I'm really nervous. But, yeah, I'm really excited,"" York said.


For his senior project in high school, York raised $15,000 in eight weeks for brain tumor research for the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University. He said he plans to stay involved with the cancer community for the rest of his life.


""I want to inspire people,"" he said.


York studied abroad in Italy last semester, working on his Italian minor. York's father said this was a big accomplishment for him, and is very proud of everything his son has done.


York chose to come to the UA because of the SALT Center, where he also works giving tours. The tumor and surgeries left York with some difficulties in comprehension and organization. His father said because of where the tumor was located, he also has some trouble with balance.


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Updated October 22, 2021