Wednesday, May 27

Graduate student asks out Joseph Gordon-Levitt via YouTube

Lindsey Miller, an urban planning graduate student, was diagnosed with cancer last October and recently asked "50/50" actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt out for coffee via YouTube.

Sidhaant Shah

A year after being diagnosed with cancer, Lindsey Miller is ready to start dating again.

Her first choice? “50/50″ actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

In a YouTube video posted Nov. 14 that received more than 200,000 views in two days, Miller, an urban planning graduate student, asks the actor out for a cup of coffee.

“Even though I look healthy, dating has been a little difficult because I’m not sure how to explain what I’ve been going through,” Miller said in the video.

Miller, who was diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer last October, said she asked the actor on a date because she identified with his character in “50/50.” In the film, Gordon-Levitt plays a cancer patient coping with his diagnosis and treatment.

“I thought (Gordon-Levitt), having gotten in the character, would understand a little more than the others do,” Miller said.

In Oct. 2010, about three weeks after starting at UCLA, Miller was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that created tumors in her pancreas and spread to both lobes of her liver.

A neuroendocrine tumor affects cells that make hormones like insulin. These tumors account for about 3 percent of pancreatic cancer each year in the United States.

The average survival rate is more than three years, but some patients can live as long as 20 years.

The idea of having cancer did not hit her until a week before her surgery, Miller said. During fall quarter Miller often had to skip class to attend doctor’s appointments and health tests, she said.

“She’s got unbelievable courage, just in coming out in a video and telling the world she has this kind of cancer,” said Debbie Miller, Lindsey’s mother.

Lindsey received surgery to remove the tumors in her pancreas and half of her liver last December, said Scott Miller, Lindsey’s father. The surgery was extremely complicated, and it took his daughter a long time to recover, he said.

There are still some tumors remaining in the other half of her liver, Lindsey Miller said. These are controlled by oral chemotherapy treatment that she has been undergoing since April, she added.

Miller said she will speak to her surgeon to be placed on a waiting list for a liver transplant. Her other option is to stay on chemotherapy.

“I never anticipated having surgery … I’m young and the thought of it scared me a lot,” she said.

Miller said she prepared for the surgery through meditation and visualization.

“I didn’t want to have an experience like (Gordon-Levitt”˜s character) where he’s on the hospital bed panicking,” she said.

Because she constantly felt tired and in pain after the surgery, she took winter quarter off to focus on making a full recovery, she said. This quarter is the first time she is taking a full load of classes.

Apart from her recovery, her condition and the scar from her surgery have deterred her from dating much, she said.

“Cancer is definitely present in everything I do,” she said. “Whether or not I talk about it, it’s become a very big part of my life.”

It’s hard to know what to say to guys about her cancer and when to say it, Miller said.

“I feel like if I don’t bring it up right away, I’m not being honest,” she said. “But I don’t want to scare anyone away by bringing it up straight away and putting them on the spot.”

Since she posted the video, she has received hundreds of emails, comments and date requests on her blog posts from people who have seen it, Miller said.

Not many people knew about her condition. The video has helped her avoid putting people on the spot about her cancer, she said.

“I hope (Gordon-Levitt) responds, but I hope he waits until after finals,” she said with a laugh.

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.