13Thirty Cancer Connect is hoping to secure a large grant to assist its mission of helping teens and young adults diagnosed with cancer find peer support.
13Thirty Cancer Connect Executive Director Lauren Spiker, who lost her teenage daughter Melissa to an aggressive form of cancer, and cancer survivor Sabrina Gauer, the Communications Coordinator for 13Thirty Cancer Connect, discussed the program and the push for the grant Thursday during News 8 at Noon.
“Now I’m not only Melissa’s Mom but I think a mom to hundreds of other kids as well,” said Spiker. “Of course, Melissa was 19 when she died of a very aggressive cancer, and we saw how very difficult it was to be a teen or a young adult going through a cancer experience, so our goal is to do exactly what was not available when Melissa was sick, and that is to help our kids build a new peer community of friends who get it.”
Gauer found herself in that gap between 13 and 30 when she found out she had cancer. “I was 27 when I was diagnosed in 2015 and by the time my cancer was caught it was a late stage cancer because of, you know, we get into that area where a lot of our symptoms are ignored or kind of glossed over because you’re young, and – oh, that’s just normal.”
She added, “13Thirty was such an awesome organization for me to become a part of. At the time, after I had gone through everything, I was in that space of – now I have had caregivers and as a 20-something, you’re in your career, and you’re trying to figure out life, and I was suddenly put back, and I had a lot of friends who didn’t understand or people around me who just – oh, we’re supporting you and we’re here for you – but there’s a different level when you come into a place where it’s other teens, young adults who have gone through this and understand all of the steps that you’ve gone through.”
With the hope of expanding its mission, 13Thirty is in the running for a massive grant. “We are the only local charity that we’re aware of who is in the running for a huge grant from the USA Network and the Gannett Foundation with the potential of earning $100,000 grant, which will allow us to replicate 13Thirty Cancer Connect in another community,” Spiker said. “And as part of that, we’ve established a Crowdrise campaign and we’re asking for Rochester’s help to help us get an additional $25,000 by being a fan favorite.”
Spiker and Gauer said many people are making donations of $13.30 to the Crowdrise site. If you’d like to help 13Thirty Cancer Connect, you can access the Crowdrise page by clicking here.