Frustrated with the lack of local networking and resources for young adult cancer survivors, local cancer survivor Amy Nesler is taking things into her own hands. She’s organized a free bowling and social event for young adult cancer survivors under 40 in the hopes that it can grow into a regular network of peers.
The Stupid Cancer bowling meetup is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25 from 2 – 4 p.m. at High Sierra Lanes located at 3390 S. Virginia St. in Reno. Bowling for young adult survivors is free, and High Sierra’s owner is donating shoe rental to participants. Nesler and her friends are covering the first $50 each in food and bar tab, and after that participants can buy food and drink on their own.
“Cancer is hard at any age, but younger patients have a different set of challenges than older people,” Nesler said. “There’s no good focal point for young survivors to seek out support from peer survivors or to find resources within the community that are age- and stage-of-life-appropriate.”
Diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in 2014, Nesler finished treatment the following year saddled with debt and confusion about her future. Throughout her treatment at a local hospital she said she was surrounded by patients 20 or even 40 years older than her and who were facing much different challenges. She has yet to connect with many other cancer survivors her age.
Nesler has organized the meetup as a Stupid Cancer event in the hopes that other locals who participate on or are aware of the organization’s forums will understand the concept of goal of joining together. Stupid Cancer is a national nonprofit focused on advocacy, research, and support for those impacted by young adult cancer. While national organizations can offer value when it comes to discussion and support, Nesler noted that they often lump Reno into larger regions, such as the Bay Area, that have very different resources for young survivors.
“It’s not about what type of cancer you’ve had or what color your ribbon is,” she said. “It means a lot when you can put a face to a name and have a face-to-face conversation with someone who just gets it.”
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Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with 20 years’ experience working in communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. In her free time, she is a volunteer backpacking guide along the Tahoe Rim Trail, an avid home cook and baker, cyclist, wife and stepmom.