Man Travels 33,000 Miles to Raise Cancer Awareness

The 28 year-old honored his late mother by traveling all over the country.

by - Posted on Feb 5, 2018

Man Travels 33,000 Miles to Raise Cancer Awareness

Drew Lawrence, of Charlottesville, Virginia spent the last 9 years grieving the loss of his mother, who died of stage-four brain cancer. He struggled to open up to others about the anguish he felt.

After having a conversation with a friend, it occurred to him that he could use travel as a form of initiating those difficult conversations about cancer. His visits would include a 5k run in Seattle for a child with cancer as well as attending concerts, festivals, and sporting events where he’d have more opportunities to discuss the disease with strangers willing to listen. His goal was to connect with people who are fighting cancer or have a loved one who’s battling the disease and turn something negative into positive by using uplifting thoughts and energy to work towards finding a cure. Not only would he be helping himself, he figured, but he would be raising awareness about the disease.

In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader

“By sharing stories with other people we can make positive connections across the country to replace the negative ones,” Lawrence told ABC News.

On December 7, 2017, Lawrence packed his things and set off for a month, traveling for 33,000 miles across 22 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago. Using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, he shared his journey and why he wanted to finally start talking about the disease that took his mother's life. He also created a blog to give more in-depth details about his experiences and the many connections he made with people along the way. The name of the blog, 29 Days until 29, stemmed from the fact that he’d be traveling for 29 days and would be turning 29 towards the end of his trip.“I am meeting people who, in a normal situation in my life in Charlottesville, I would have had no reason to talk to,” he told TODAY.

When a California man named Steve Rafferty, who was a two-time non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor, heard about what Lawrence was trying to do on social media, he reached out to Lawrence and invited him to go skydiving. Throughout the trip, he successfully engaged strangers and created conversations and connections with people from all over the country. Although he does not actively solicit donations because he’d like to put more focus on connecting rather than collecting, Lawrence’s website has a PayPal link for people who are willing to donate to the American Cancer Society.

Although his trip is over, Lawrence assures his readers that neither his blog, nor his journey, are done. “There are still plenty of reasons to keep following and checking back, as I still have plenty of positive cancer connections, thoughts, and reflections that I want to share with everyone,” he writes.

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