Every year beginning in 2015, the third week of January is recognized as Virginia Teen Cancer Awareness Week.
Bite Me Cancer worked with delegates of the Virginia General Assembly over the course of a year to help make this happen. House Joint Resolution 161, designating the third week in January as Teen Cancer Awareness Week in Virginia, was unanimously passed by both houses of the Virginia General Assembly early in 2015. On July 31, 2014, Virginia Governor Hon. Terry McAuliffe signed a proclamation for the new Teen Cancer Awareness Week. He was joined by Delegate Tom Rust and Delegate Ken Plum, Nikki Ferraro and fellow cancer survivors during the signing ceremony.
Cancer among adolescents is still the leading cause of death from disease in teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. In recognition of this, Bite Me Cancer was formed in 2010 to support teenagers with cancer while its founder (Nikki Ferraro) was going through her own cancer battle at the age of 17 years old. Nikki was diagnosed with a rare form of Thyroid Cancer in April 2010, and she formed Bite Me Cancer in September 2010. Talking about the significance of this designation, Nikki stated, “This is a critical step forward in publically recognizing the unique needs that teenagers with cancer deal with and how they deserve specific support which is different than for younger children or young adults. When I was diagnosed at 17 years old, I received a few support bags for much younger children, and I couldn’t find anyone who could relate to what I was going through.” Ferraro continued, “We are extremely grateful to the Governor, the resolution’s patrons: Delegates Rust, Plum, Comstock, LeMunyon, and Ransone, and to the General Assembly as a whole for establishing Teen Cancer Awareness Week in support of teenagers with cancer across the Virginia.”
Bite Me Cancer continues to spread awareness to the specific challenges of teenagers who battle cancer. Teenagers dealing with cancer have many unique challenges: they understand the seriousness of cancer and the possibility of death, the loss of friendships, the missing of school and activities, the increased need for parents, the loss of independence, the question around getting through middle school, high school or college, and even more.
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