Life as a 20-year-old bald Leukemia patient is never something we imagine in our wildest dreams growing up. Not knowing anyone else similar in age who can share how they coped with such fear and uncertainty was only the beginning of Stephanie Scoletti's concerns. Little did she know that this disease would blossom into a mission that Pittsburgh, PA has never seen.
In 2012, Stephanie led a new support group (called Young Adult Cancer Support (YACS) for young adults with cancer, ages 18-39. What was quickly confirmed: young adult cancer is different. The experiences are different. The issues are different. The developmental stage they're in when diagnosed is different. Being their parents' caregivers while also parenting young kids when diagnosed. Not to mention financial toxicity, infertility, and self-identity as three of the major roadblocks that arise once cancer hits.
In 2014, Stephanie added social outings and financial assistance to the program. Since then, survivors and co-survivors have participated in monthly outings, providing a break to everyday stress, fears, and anxiety and instead giving an uplifting experience surrounding them with peer support and at no cost to them. Stephanie and her husband started hosting fundraisers that supported the socials and $100 stipends. Recipients now receive $300 stipends annually.
Since inception, over 450 stipends have been awarded and $250,000 has been raised for young adult survivors. Over 500 survivors have benefited from the program. Stephanie built the community for young adult cancer survivors which is why Young Adult Survivors United was established as a new 501(c)(3) organization.
YASU provides greater opportunities for program expansion, increased memberships and funding, and a greater impact so that young adult survivors and families can cope and thrive with peer support and the necessary tools to live a better quality of life that no other organization can do. We thrive on collaborating with other organizations to ensure we're all in this together!