Beyond Vassar

A Survivor

By Baize Buzan '10

“Soccer crazy. Inspired philanthropist. Mad inventor. Survivor winner. Big dreamer.” The words Ethan Zohn ’96 chooses to describe himself embody all that has kept him in the headlines since his Survivor: Africa win in 2002: compassion (he used his Survivor prize to help establish Grassroot Soccer, a nonprofit that trains professional soccer players to teach African children about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention); stamina (in August 2008, he dribbled a soccer ball from Boston to Washington, DC) — and, of course, a rather charming smile and a healthy amount of charisma. Now Zohn has added another descriptor to the list: “cancer crusher.” In late April, Zohn was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease; in May, he learned that he was suffering specifically from a rare form of cancer called CD20-positive Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the body’s lymphatic system with survival rates reaching as high as 90 percent.

Zohn is facing his new opponent with his usual dogged optimism, taking his diagnosis as a chance to help educate and inspire others — making various public appearances, keeping a daily update of his battle via Twitter (, and allowing to publish a video blog of his treatments and experiences. The blog, updated weekly, features Zohn ceremoniously shaving his trademarked curls, amicably showing off his various medications, and triumphantly receiving treatments. As of this writing, Zohn was going in for his fifth chemo session — one more to go. Zohn told “I feel like I’m going to beat this.”

— Baize Buzan '10