• Holiday Extravaganza!


    Find the perfect gift and support our programs for teens and young adults with cancer at the same time! 13thirty Cancer Connect has incredible, locally hand-crafted jewelry and quilts available for purchase this holiday season! Jewelry ranges from $10-$30 and quilts range from $25-$35. Please see the image description for additional details on each item. Gifts can be picked up at the 13thirty Cancer Connect Rochester Center (1000 Elmwood Ave. – Door 9). Shipping is also available. If you’d like to purchase one, please comment on the picture or message us and it will be held for you! Questions? Contact Christina at (585) 563-6221 or christina@13thirty.org Happy Holidays!

    holiday

  • Thank You 13thirty Champions!

    Syracuse is Open!

    Many 13thirty Champions stepped up to help open the doors of our new community-based center in Liverpool, NY. We are eternally grateful for each and every one of them! Thank you for helping us “make a difference, make things better.”

    You can visit our new Center at 1035 7th North St. Liverpool, NY 13088. Look for Suite E – our door is always open!

    Check out photos of the new center and keep up to date on our programs on the Syracuse page.

  • We’re expanding to Syracuse!

    Syracuse

    Why Syracuse?

    13thirty Cancer Connect’s community-based center in Rochester, NY has been a second home to hundreds of teens and young adults with cancer for nearly twenty years. A place so vital for current patients and survivors alike, that a Syracuse teen, Charlie Poole, traveled 95 miles with his mom to meet new friends who understood. Charlie’s love for 13thirty Cancer Connect became the driving force behind our planned expansion to Syracuse. He looked for resources and support for other teens and young adults with cancer in his community but found none. So Charlie and his mom drove all the way to Rochester to attend programs. We knew it shouldn’t be so hard and we had to make it easier for others like Charlie.

    Sadly, Charlie died in August 2018 leaving an indelible mark on our hearts and a sense of urgency to act on our dreams. Five years ago, another beloved 13thirty friend died. Hannah Metzler, like Charlie, was only 17. After Hannah’s death, 13thirty earmarked the generous gifts given in her honor for our first expansion site. The donations in Charlie’s honor were earmarked for the same ambitious goal.

    Why Now?

    82,000 teens and young adults ages 13-30 are diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year. Like Charlie and Hannah, they need 13thirty Cancer Connect in their community. Support from our 13thirty Champions helped us to confidently begin serving Syracuse teens and young adults at our new 13thirty Cancer Connect center dedicated to Hannah and Charlie.

    Why Not?

    Please join us at our Grand Opening as we continue to “make a difference, make things better.”

    13thirty Syracuse Grand Opening Media Advisory

    Keep up with the now open Syracuse center by reading the Syracuse Scoop or checking out our ongoing programs. Or stop by and pay us a visit! Get directions here.

  • life

    Celebrating Life at Journeys!

    On November 4, we will gather once again for a celebration of life in honor of all the teens and young adults with cancer that we have been privileged to know and love over the years. This will be the 16th Journeys, our Annual Celebration of Living!

    If you’ve been to Journeys, you know how special this night is. If you’ve never been, I hope this will be the year you will join us because Journeys is unlike any other charity gala. In fact, we don’t call it a gala because there is no formal dress, the special themed centerpieces are fashioned on my dining room table, and there are only a few, short speeches! We call it a Celebration because that’s what we do.

    We celebrate all the kids who have inspired us to be the best we can be and to give as much as we’re able.

    Past 13thirty members, whose bonds of friendship were forged years ago, reunite as if no time or space has separated them. Present members welcome potential new members in friendship. Our families share stories with common themes and guests who have not been touched by adolescent and young adult cancer are forever changed by the energy in the room.

    During the cocktail hour, student groups provide the music, enthusiastic volunteers sell raffle tickets and corks for the wine pull, while delicious appetizers are passed by the wonderful staff of Creative Caterers. After dinner, the program starts with our time-honored, candle lighting ceremony, during which we remember our friends who — though gone — continue to warm our hearts with their light. We recognize special folks who have helped us. This year’s “Corporate Sponsor Salute” goes to ValPak of Rochester and Dr. Barbara Asselin will receive the “Make a Difference Award.”

    And then, it’s time for the highlight of the night: The kids’ performance!

    Each year, we have a theme around which the “kids” of 13thirty Cancer Connect craft a presentation that will give our guests an authentic view of what it’s like to be a teen or young adult with cancer. As you might gather from our invitation, this year’s theme is “Bridges” —  but I’m not going to say any more. You’ll just have to come and see for yourself what we’ve put together for you! We are thrilled to be working with Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle from Airigami (airigami.com) this year. Here’s a clue – there are balloons involved. Lots of them! Local poets, Charlie Cote and Danielle Shied, helped the kids put feelings to words and our friend Dan Roach, as always, makes us sound and look great!

    It’s going to be an amazing night and I hope you will be there because if you are, you will see what keeps me going every day.

    When Melissa died, our hearts were forever shattered but I knew we were strong enough to carry on, to continue living, to somehow put one foot in front of the other. What I didn’t know was just how much better I could be, how much more I could love, how much joy I would find in the young people I work with every day. They are the beacons of hope in this (sometimes) dark world. They rise above the small things and keep focus on what’s important. They truly live and love life and I am so very proud of them all.

    I promise you, Journeys is a night you don’t want to miss! You can RSVP online until Oct. 26 at www.roc.13thirty.org.

    See you on November 4th!


    About the Author

    lauren-spiker-1Lauren Spiker is our founder, executive director, and chief visionary with a pulse on what’s happening in the world of AYA oncology. Her dreams are big and bold!

  • garden

    Painting in the Garden (and other Life Reflections)

    We must cultivate our own garden. – Voltaire

    “Have you thought what you’re going to do with my ashes when you get them back?”

    This was not a question I’d ever imagined being asked, especially by one of my children. So, when Melissa surprised me with that question one beautiful spring day seventeen years ago, it took me a minute to respond even though I had, actually, thought about it. Knowing that my 19-year old daughter would die soon of a cancer that could not be cured, I had thought of many unimaginable things.

    Melissa's Story 13thirty

    “Yes, I have,” I sadly responded. Knowing that she thought cemeteries were lonely places, I suggested that we might spread her ashes over the Grand Canyon where we had recently spent a bittersweet last family vacation.

    “Hmmm, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she said. Seeing my puzzled look, she continued. “Remember how windy it was the day we were there? It would really be gross if my ashes blew back on all of you.” I still smile remembering how hard we laughed at the thought.

    “Do you have a better idea?” I retorted when we stopped laughing.

    “How about the garden?” my always-wiser-than-I daughter offered.

    It was a perfect plan. She knew we loved to be in the garden but more importantly, I think she knew that tending to and nurturing tender plants and nascent blooms would console my grieving heart when she was gone.

    And she was right. Over the years, Melissa’s garden has grown from the first small bed, where her ashes rest under the arms of a lovely garden angel, to a rich tapestry of color and texture covering our entire side and back yards. This is my sacred place. The place where I seek and find peace. The place where my soul rests alongside hers. A haven from the day’s harried pace and society’s many conflicts. Here, the world makes sense as days pass as predictably as the seasons change.

    As it has through time, spring’s rebirth grows into summer’s glory and eventually yields to the bronze of autumn and the quiet hush of winter’s snowy cover. I take comfort knowing that this universal cycle will always start anew and that the energy within all living things changes form but never dies. Because this is what I believe, my daughter’s ever-present spirit fuels my resolve to carry on and strengthens my confidence that life does happen with purpose.

    Recently, Melissa’s garden became a respite for a small group of other moms whose lives, like mine, were turned upside down when their children were diagnosed with cancer. We came together on a beautiful summer’s night, planted our easels throughout the garden, and with brush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, absorbed the quiet solitude as paint took shape on canvas. garden

    As evening light started to fade, we stood back and admired our work. The finished pieces were each unique. Different color schemes, brush stroke, perspective, vantage point. But each was inspired by a common bond – the shared experience of motherhood.

    I’ve learned over the years that being a parent and gardening are very similar. Both involve patience, nurturing and the willingness to sometimes overlook pesky, unsightly weeds – or children, in the case of parenting.

    To do both jobs well, one must have the courage to envision and hope for the future.

    Neither happens overnight and shortcuts never work.

    But perhaps the greatest similarity is that both parenting and gardening are difficult, exhausting tasks leaving one bone-weary and often disappointed. It’s physically, emotionally, and psychologically draining gardenwith little respite, especially when parenting a child with cancer.

    The 18th century French writer and philosopher Voltaire once wrote. “We must cultivate our own garden.”   On this magical evening, four moms whose paths would likely never have crossed had it not been for cancer, heeded Voltaire’s advice. Together, they created art inspired by the beauty around them and their individual life experience. In this holy place, they found their own peaceful patch of earth, savored precious moments of solitude and refreshed their weary souls in the company of friends who understand.

     


    final paintingsThis is the wonder of 13thirty Cancer Connect. We support teens and young adults on their journey through cancer and beyond, as well as being a place for parents to connect with each other and build understanding and encouraging community. If your teen or young adult has endured cancer’s treacherous road and you have a need to “cultivate your own garden”, we invite you to join us! The coffee’s always on!

     

     


    About the Author

    lauren-spiker-1Lauren Spiker is our founder, executive director, and chief visionary with a pulse on what’s happening in the world of AYA oncology. Her dreams are big and bold!

  • journeys

    Journeys 2016 – RSVP Now!

    Reserve your Journeys 2016 today!

    15th Annual Celebration of Living

    October 15th, 2016 6:00PM
    Temple B’rith Kodesh
    2131 Elmwood Ave
    Rochester, NY 14618

    Please join us!
    Silent Auction, Raffles, Wine Pull, Cocktails, Music Dinner and Dessert

    Make a Difference Award
    Dr. Amy Parkhill, St. John Fisher College

    Corporate Sponsor Salute
    Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield

    Presentation
    The Faces Behind the Masks Our 13thirty teens and young adults reveal the real faces and stories that cancer often masks. You’ll be inspired!

    Purchase Tickets

    Single Ticket: $75  

    Table of Eight: $520   

    Sponsor a Teen Family: $225   

    Contact info@13thirty.org or call us at (585) 563-6221 for more information.

  • paradox

    The Paradox of Cancer

     

    Funny how people find themselves together. Families are tied together by birth. Neighbors become neighbors by virtue of geographic proximity. Business relationships are born of mutual economic gain.

    But sometimes, the vagaries of life conspire and cast together people whose paths may never have crossed otherwise.

    This happens often in my world and when it does, I’m always struck by how the universe works.

    Last night, at the first annual Bald for Bucks Beard-Off, nine handsome men chose to shave their prized beards – and in a few cases, their heads – to show their support for our teens and young adults with cancer. In a very public way, they stood together and railed against cancer in young people.

    The atmosphere at Lovin’ Cup, a very cool bistro and brew pub, was upbeat, rowdy at times. Good food, craft beers, live music and a bit of thought-provoking poetry created a good vibe. One by one, each man took his seat and the crowd cheered as each beard hit the floor.

    Many in attendance were waiting for the final three – Charlie Cote, John Nichols and Josh Symer. As I, along with the rest of the house, shouted in approval, a familiar feeling settled in my heart making me both happy and sad. Had it not been for cancer, I would never have met these three awesome people. Had Charlie’s son, also named Charlie, not died, the poems he read last night would have been much less poignant and touching. There would have been no tears. Charlie wouldn’t even have been there, no less be our current Board President.

    Because John’s son, Quin, had cancer and thankfully survived, John serves on our Board of Directors with a commitment forged in his own family’s experience, ever grateful that his son is alive but always wary of cancer’s spectre. If not for cancer, John, too, would not have been there.

    And of course, if Melissa hadn’t died, the organization wouldn’t even exist. Josh, our new Special Events Coordinator, would never have had the opportunity to organize the Beard-Off and be compelled to shave his own beard and head because of his passionate belief in our cause. Certainly, he would have been somewhere else.

    Therein lies the paradox.

    I am blessed to know Charlie, John and Josh and am grateful beyond words for their support and dedication. But I’d give my life to never have met them if it meant Melissa could still be here enriching the world with her gifts. I guess life is like that. Misfortune brought these three men and me together last night but it is my very, very good fortune to know and work with them.

     

    Bladforbucks

     

     

     

    Charlie Cote, John Nichols, Josh Symer without their beards. View the whole album to see John without his 43 year old moustache and Josh without his hair!

     

    About the Author

    LaurenLauren Spiker,  Melissa’s mom and Executive Director of 13thirty Cancer Connect.

  • podcast

    How It All Began

    Whether you are new to 13thirty Cancer Connect, or have been part of the community for a while now, get a new perspective and learn about its start and what we do for the community as a whole.

    In this podcast segment of EdStories, hosted by Michael Zaffuts, Lauren Spiker (Founder and Director of 13thirty), talks about what 13thirty can offer to the community. Hear about what events are coming up, the new features of the center, and what other programs are offered at 13thirty this year. Also, hear part of Melissa’s story and how the organization came to be.

    To hear the podcast visit the EdStories, and to learn more about EdStories and see other available podcasts, you can visit Michael Zaffuts’ website.