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Young Man Fighting Cancer At CHOP Covers Jay Z Songs To Raise Awareness, Hopes To Meet Rapper

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Carol-reporter-web-headshot-no-branding Carol Erickson
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By Carol Erickson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A young man fighting cancer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has become a YouTube sensation. In a story CBSPhilly brought to you first, his covers of two songs by rapper Jay Z are helping to shine light on the daily difficulties faced by cancer patients.

Music superstar Jay Z and his glossy videos thinks he’s keeping it real – but you want real? Go behind this curtain to a YouTube viral video superstar and cancer patient, Tom G. He can go head to head with anyone – even his own doctor on a Jay Z-inspired spoof called ‘Bald So Hard.”

“Bald so hard my head got shiny, bright glare behind me. What’s a brush, what’s a comb, what’s a bad hair day, can you please remind me?”

Nineteen-year-old Tom Gillin lost his hair, but not his humor or lyric writing talent to cancer treatments for AML, a form of Leukemia.

“After my chemo, I’ll have a week of really good days, in which I’ll feel great and I can do a music video,” Gillin said.

Can he ever. In less than a week his music video has 20,000 YouTube views and counting. But he’s not counting on this for his name or fame recognition. He wants a cancer patient’s daily life and all the CHOP staff like Angela to get the headlines and credit.

“I made this video to explain the everyday life of a cancer patient in a more unique way,” Tom says at the end of the video, before holding up a sign with the hashtag #BaldSoHard.

“We’re not just withering in the hospital, we’re fighting every day to get better,” he said.

Tom’s hospital room, home since his April cancer diagnosis during his freshman year at UCLA, still has the Bald So Hard video props and all the real ones too. Gillin wants to meet Jay Z, some day, mostly to have him spread the word about cancer. But the biggest hope Tom has is to lose something – his hospital bracelet and all that goes with it.

“Get out of here one day and the opening of the doors and cutting off the bracelet,” he said.

And he’s on track to live that last music video frame — and be discharged from the hospital in a few weeks.

To see Tom’s video, click here.

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