[Day 574] the strange kids

On the day that I can no longer call them “kids”
These kids are really really strange

After harassing my oncologist for 6 weeks with hundreds of questions about cancer, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments, he invited me to the lab where people do “cool stuff” like using wearable devices to track cancer patients. My face was covered with rashes and look ugly as hell! However, who knows when these rash gonna go away? Should I just hide from the public forever? Maybe someone at the lab can tell me “whether I should wash my face with cool water or warm water”?

That day was November 29th, 2016!

For exactly 2 months since my diagnosis with cancer, no one understands what the heck I was thinking or talking about besides my oncologist. These three strange kids seem to understand! 
If there were a moment you feel drowning and someone gave you a hand, it was that moment! I was stunned with what they have built as undergrad students.

For many years, GreenGar has been bragging about how cool we were for publishing our first iPhone app in 2008. Brain Tuner has over 5 million downloads but did not make a single impact in anyone’s lives. These “three strange kids” — at that moment — have made a huge impact on my life. In a quick 10-mins-presentation, I wanted to interrupt them so badly. “Hey kids, I understand! No need to talk or convince anyone about CancerBase. I get it, and I will do it”

A strange lady, Erica Muhl, and her partners-in-crime, including will.i.am!

These strange kids also have a bunch of strange friends, 6 of them to be exact! They chose to work on CancerBase among other cool projects from big companies like Adobe and Tom’s Shoes. Because of them, I started coming to the lab more often. Then I brought the idea of Hackathon to an old man — who seems to have a little bit of power in the lab — and got his green light to proceed. His green light only means permission, not money to organize the event though! Together with this these kids and their friends, and a ton of supporters in the lab, we manage to run the weekly meeting, try to figure out how to raise fund, get permission, and organize our first Hackathon.

Ten months after the day I’ve met these strange kids, The Kuhn Lab and Salt Cancer Initiative organized the biggest multidisciplinary oncology conference in Vietnam, impact over 1000 cancer patients.

One year after the day I’ve met these strange kids, USC announced the entirely new interdisciplinary undergrad track to focus on health innovation — launching in 2019.

Two weeks ago, a lymphoma undergrad student came to the lab and said, “I was so lost when I received my diagnosis. I had no clue what I should do next. But thankfully, because of the Hackathon and this lab, I feel like there is a place where I belong to and still can contribute to the people who are like me”

These kids, they really have no idea what kind of impact they have made on my life directly, and thousands of cancer patients indirectly, don’t they?
The strange kids that impacted my life — they really turned it upside down!

Today, these strange kids walked across the stage, received the diploma from Jimmy and Dr. Dre. They are the first mice of USC Iovine and Young Academy! THE FIRST OF THE VERY FIRST!

Many more cohorts will raise and graduate, each and everyone single one of them will make a dent in this universal one way or the other. But hey, you set the bar real high, Class of 2018!

-USC, May 11th 2018-