YouTube star Hank Green reveals cancer diagnosis

Author and YouTuber Hank Green has been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, sharing the news in a video posted to his YouTube page.
Author and YouTuber Hank Green has been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, sharing the news in a video posted to his YouTube page. Screengrab / @vlogbrothers

Hank Green has announced he’s been diagnosed with cancer.

In a 13 minute-long video shared to his YouTube channel Friday morning, the New York Times best-selling author and science vlogger revealed his lymphoma diagnosis.

“I noticed my lymph nodes were big,” he said recalling his first noticeable symptom, adding that the doctor wasn’t too concerned but decided to send him for an ultrasound.

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“The tech in the ultrasound room was like, ‘I’m going to get a doctor,'” he explained, laughing. “That’s not what you want to happen,” he added.

“It seems likely that we caught mine early. I’m still waiting on a scan to sort of confirm that,” Green, 43, said, adding that he would be starting chemotherapy at the same time the video was uploaded. In the description of the video, he shared that a PET/CT scan showed the cancer hasn’t spread — very good news when it comes to a cancer diagnosis.

Using his trademark brand of good humour, while also keeping things very frank, Green shared with viewers his faith in proven medical treatments, the science of lymphoma and the “good news, bad news” of his diagnosis.

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“It’s something called Hodgkin’s lymphoma, like one of the most treatable cancers. It responds very well to treatment,” he said.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the five-year net survival for Hodgkin lymphoma patients is 85 per cent, meaning that, on average, 85 per cent of those diagnosed with the cancer will survive for at least five years. However, the organization notes that Hodgkin lymphoma survival is affected by tumour bulk, the absence of symptoms that affect the whole body (called “B symptoms), as well as how early the cancer is diagnosed.

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Green and his brother John, a Young Adult author, rose to internet fame through their shared YouTube channel, vlogbrothers. They have also collaborated on other popular projects, including the podcast Dear Hank and John and a YouTube channel called Crash Course.

Green has also gained wide traction through his educational videos on Instagram and TikTok, where he shares accessible and easy-to-digest explanations to some of the world’s most complex science questions.

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Developing cancer has always been something he’s been aware of, Green said in the video, sharing that he has several risk factors for the disease that include some medications he’s taken, having an autoimmune disease and having mononucleosis as a kid.

He also took some time in the video to establish some boundaries with his audience, explaining that while he appreciates the support and love from his viewers, he’s not ready to talk publicly about how the diagnosis is affecting his personal life.

He also made it clear he’s not interested in hearing about alternative treatments to cancer, saying he has full confidence in his medical team and the protocols that have been developed though years of medical testing and science.

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Green also addressed that he might not be feeling up to creating as much content as he usually does, asking for understanding if he chooses to scale back for a while and focus on his treatments and recovery.

“I’m a very driven person and I take obligations, like I hold them very seriously, and they weigh on me a lot and cause a lot of stress when there’s like space between what I feel and I should get done and what I feel capable of, and what I am capable of doing,” he said, emphasizing that he hopes his fans are “down with him making stuff” when he feels up to it.

“I’m playing it by ear,” he said in the video. “I know I’m gonna feel like garbage, like it’s gonna be really unpleasant.”

John shared the news on his own Twitter page, writing, “Some important news from Hank. My little brother is my closest collaborator, oldest friend, and my absolute hero. Thank you for loving him as I do, and supporting us–and each other–in a tough time.”

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Fans responded to the news with an avalanche of support, echoing back to him the kindness the Green brothers have become known for.

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Green said that while he’s not accepting unsolicited medical advice, he is interested in hearing suggestions for lighthearted television shows, movies and video games to distract him.

“Like, no emotion…really dumb things that will not make you cry, that will not make anyone cry.”

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