When one of my closest friends was diagnosed with Stage III cancer on her 26th birthday, I was shocked (to say the least). Cancer at 26?! My immediate reaction: “But she’s too young.” But that’s the thing about cancer: it has no age limit. Cancer doesn’t care how old you are, it doesn’t care if it’s your birthday, it doesn’t care if you have no money, it doesn’t care that you have your whole life ahead of you…cancer is pretty evil like that. Of the 12.7 million people who are diagnosed and victimized by cancer each year, 72,000 of those are young adults.
Hope for Young Adults with Cancer (H4YAWC) is a non-profit organization, headquartered in St. Louis, that is dedicated to the support and assistance of young adults, ages 18-40, who are living with cancer. Believe it or not, H4YAWC is one of less than 100 organizations in the United States that work specifically to support young adults, and just one of three nationwide that provides financial support to individuals while they are in treatment.
The mission of Hope for Young Adults with Cancer is to connect with young adults in the fight to provide direct financial support along with a social network and outlet for those battling, surviving and living with cancer.
H4YAWC’s main focus is their Giving Hope Fund that gives young adults currently battling cancer, as well as those who have been in remission for up to 5 years after their treatment, the opportunity to help pay for the necessities of everyday life. These items range anywhere from gas cards and grocery store gift cards, to cell phone and credit card bills, to daycare or mortgage payments, and, of course, to any and all forms of medical bills. Applications for the Giving Hope Fund are accepted and reviewed twice a year and funds are distributed to applicants based on availability.
Although providing financial support is a main mission of this organization, H4YAWC is also extremely dedicated to the moral support of young adults who are currently battling or have battled cancer. As social isolation is a primary concern in young adults with cancer, the organization hosts a number of social events throughout the St. Louis area. These events bring together patients, survivors, caregivers, family, and friends to socialize, have fun, and take their minds off of the burdens that come along with battling cancer. Happy hours, movie screenings, fitness programs, and more are offered throughout the year for patients and survivors to connect with people their age and regain a sense of normalcy in their lives.
Like most non-profit organizations working tirelessly to achieve their mission, Hope for Young Adults with Cancer needs help to help others! H4YAWC encourages anyone and everyone in the community to become an ambassador for the organization in any way they can—donate money to the Give Hope fund, volunteer at one of their social events, host a food drive for them—the opportunities are many, and more help means more support for the young adults they serve.
I will be celebrating G/L STL 25 by joining the H4YAWC #Run4Hope team at the 2014 St. Louis Half Marathon in November and fundraising $250 for the organization.
Anyone who lives with or has lived with cancer will tell you—having a support system makes all the difference. Thanks to the efforts of great organizations like Hope for Young Adults with Cancer, those who fall victim to this sickness can be confident that they have a strong support system backing them and helping them through their seemingly insurmountable fight. This is why I choose to help H4YAWC. To find out how you can get involved with and help H4YAWC, visit their website or contact them at [email protected].