Featured MassKicker

Darrell Luke Holland

Tell the next person so this doesn’t continue. Maybe you will get to be a friend with someone who gets something significant in your life. Always keep a few friends for each significant event/diagnoses that made you who you are so far.

Darrell “Luke” Holland has been “Kickin’ mAss” for quite some time and has turned it into a career!  Luke has been in the ream of cancer survivorship over 20 years as a survivor and powerful patient advocate.  He is the Founder and Steering Committee Member of the North Carolina Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Network.  Currently, he is the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Work Group Co-Chair at Duke University Medical Center and serves on the Board of Directors at the Carolina Cancer Connection.  He is also very involved with the NC Chapter of Stupid Cancer as the Volunteer Coordinator.  From 1997 to 2013 he has worked as a hospice nurse, a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse, a clinical nurse, and clinical research nurse.  We met Luke at a conference in NYC in 2011 and still keep in touch.  We are very honored to chat with him about his fight against cancer.

mK:  Thanks for doing this Luke!  First question… What/ when was your diagnosis?

LH: Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1990 and again in 1991.

mK:  Wow!  That was a while ago!  What were your symptoms?

LH: Enlarged supraclavicular lymph node

mK: Why did you get involved with advocacy?

LH: It’s my job. I’m an oncology nurse.

mK: You are very involved in the adolescent and young adult survivor movement.  What do you do for Stupid Cancer?

LH: Since 2009 I have been a volunteer, organizing social meetups for adolescents and young adult affected by cancer in North Carolina. I have also worked to let my oncology colleagues and the community know that age relevant resources for young adults like Stupid Cancer and MassKickers exist in addition to the national AYAO (Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology) guidelines from the NCI, NCCN, and IOM. I am currently also on the academic advisory board for Instapeer.

mK: Who is your hero or heroes?

LH: Eric Galvez is of course! Also everyone. My heroes are the people who quietly have the courage amidst the joy and brutality of life to continue to find the hero within themselves and to quietly by example encourage others to find their hero.

mK: We hear that Galvez-guy is a huge geek who watches too many movies!  What motivates you?

LH: The amazing people around me.

mK: You’ve been “Kickin’ mAss” for a while!  When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?

LH: Always and never

mK: What makes you laugh, cry, angry?

LH: Cancer

mK:  Short, Simple, and to the point. What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?

LH: Being an oncology nurse

mK:  What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor?  How did you overcome it?

LH: The most rewarding privilege and challenge in my life has been trying to be good enough in working with children, teens, and young adults with cancer. The part of being a word/role called “survivor” is an extra unasked-for-responsibility to society to wear that cape.  I still get kicked, loved, and beaten. I giggle at that word called “survivor.”

I don’t see challenges to overcome. I see the brutal joy we have AND get to live.

mK: What is your guilty pleasure?

LH: Bacon

mK:  Hee hee.  Random question time… If you were stranding on a deserted island by yourself with no means of communication off the island and you could have 3 things, what would they be and why?

LH: Joy, love, and friends … and bacon because hey it’s bacon and who wants to follow rules of just 3 things if you find yourself on a deserted island filled with joy, love, friends, and bacon!

mK: That’s redundant!  Bacon encompasses all three things.  Anyways, what do you like to do in your spare time?

LH: Do interviews for Masskickers!

mK: HAHAHA!  What are you up to now?

LH: Helping to enhance the AYA oncology program at Duke University Hospital System, organizing the first North Carolina AYA cancer network, continuing to provide social meetups in NC for young adults affected by cancer, helping Instapeer become a reality as part of the academic advisory board, and creating a fitness social network for cancer survivors in the Carolinas.

mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?

LH: You deserve friendships with others who have been through it or going through it. You will most likely have to hear this many times for even a chance of listening to this advice. Most likely no one will have told you or offered you this. Sorry if no one did when you were diagnosed. Tell the next person so this doesn’t continue. Maybe you will get to be a friend with someone who gets something significant in your life. Always keep a few friends for each significant event/diagnoses that made you who you are so far.

mK: If you name is really “Darrell”, why do you go by “Luke”?

LH: Switching to Luke after cancer diagnosis just happened. Darrell was the young military cadet ready to assume the role of an Army officer that cancer prevented. Luke was who went on after the Army officer ended.

mK: So “Luke” is your super hero name.  Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.

LH: During college I was one of the art departments drawing class models in the altogether.

mK: Uh huh… Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?

LH: “This ain’t no pity party!”

Darrell Luke Holland: “nude” college art class model (j/k), a re-born “Luke”, bacon lover, proactive cancer survivor advocate, and personally driven proactive adolescent and young adult cancer survivor advocate.  Keep an eye out for Stupid Cancer’s Instapeer and the young adult survivor movement in North Carolina!  Thanks again Luke!


  • Shanna Carney Henk

    I’m trying to get a hold of Luke (who I know as Darrell). I haven’t talked to him since college and have often wondered how things turned out for him since I knew him during his early days with Hodgkins. I’m really glad to see he’s still around. Darrell, if you see this, please get in touch!

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