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Should I still be talking about my cancer?

February 26, 2014
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Rose Ibarra (Egge) with her godson Liev on her wedding day.

I am a 28-year-old newly married woman. So, naturally, I spend a good portion of my life talking about babies.

Excited conversations with friends, family or mere acquaintances often lead to the question “When are you going to start having kids?” While it seems like a benign inquiry, for me, the honest answer requires a frank conversation about the most definitive experience of my life – my battle with cancer.

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. After 6 months of intensive, inpatient chemotherapy and two more years of maintenance chemo, my reproductive system appears to be damaged beyond repair. At 28 years old, I am sliding into menopause and unlikely to get pregnant naturally. Read more…

Seattle man beats cancer thanks to research, philanthropy

February 19, 2014

AmainA 20-year-old man being treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital has survived a third leukemia diagnosis thanks to a local scientist who dedicated his life to cancer research and two parents who lost their son to cancer. Here’s the story from Seattle Children’s:

Five months ago, 20-year-old Milton Wright III was given a death sentence. Today, he is expected to live a long, healthy life. This is the incredible story of how two determined researchers and the parents of a young boy came together to save him.

On Sept. 18, 2013, 20-year-old Milton Wright III walked into Seattle Children’s Hospital and received some devastating news.

Leukemia. Again. The third time in his young life, to be precise.

Wright wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis. He had been worried his cancer was back and went to the hospital alone to avoid worrying his mom and three younger siblings. Still, the news was paralyzing.

“I really felt like I was coming up in the world,” he said. “I thought I was done with cancer.”

Then the news got worse. Wright’s leukemia had become resistant to chemotherapy. A bone marrow transplant could cure his cancer, but he would have to be in remission first, and that couldn’t happen without chemotherapy. His chances of survival were dismal.

Wright remembered his friends who died after their third cancer diagnosis and started sobbing in the exam room. “I was waiting for them to give me my six months,” he said. Read more…

Introducing the Thrive Through Cancer Board of Directors

October 2, 2013

I am thrilled to introduce the first-ever Board of Directors for Thrive Through Cancer. The following volunteers will meet monthly through 2014 to determine the best direction for the organization.

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Rose and Angel Ibarra.

Rose Ibarra, Director

After being diagnosed with Non-Hogkin Lymphoma, Rose founded Thrive Through Cancer in 2011  to help other young adults cope with cancer. Rose is a health reporter for KOMONews.com. She has been an ambassador for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and won the organization’s 2012 National Media Award of Excellence. She represented the American Cancer Society by running in the 2012 Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon six months after she completed chemotherapy. In 2013 she was named “Holy Rosary School’s Distinguished Alum” for service to others. One of Rose’s “post-cancer dreams” came true on August 3, 2013 when she married her husband Angel, surrounded by friends and family.  They live together in West Seattle with their two cats.

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Amanda Rubeck, Assistant Director

Amanda started her journey with Thrive as one of the first volunteers and has been hooked ever since.  Amanda’s family has been deeply affected by cancer and most recently her grandfather who she lost to brain cancer. It was then she completely understood the importance of community support and comforting items/words in a time of struggle for positivity, hope and health. Continually she has been an advocate in her community in positions such as co-chair of fundraisers, volunteering for events and mentoring youth.  Amanda lives on Lake Union in Seattle and enjoys traveling the world, the arts and spending time with her family, friends and new kitten Norman. She is excited to be the Assistant Director for Thrive and to keep the Thrive momentum going strong, supported and filled with compassion every step of the way. Read more…

Apply for Board of Directors, lead volunteers

August 23, 2013

Want to be involved in the future of Thrive? Thrive Through Cancer is looking for people who want to be a part of our organization as Lead Volunteers or members of the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors will ensure that Thrive Through Cancer stays true to its mission to help young adults fight cancer today and live amazing lives tomorrow. Members will meet regularly over the next year as Thrive applies for tax-exempt status and develops a 3-year strategic plan.

Lead volunteers will be given a key role in executing the organization’s strategic plan, such as event planning, fundraising, Hope Tote delivery or developing a digital media plan. Volunteers may lead a committee of volunteers and will report to the executive director.

A person can apply to join the board or volunteer, or do both.

To apply, please email a letter to thrivingwithcancer@gmail.com with the following information by Sept. 15. An open advisory meeting will be held Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at Uptown Espresso, 4301 SW Edmonds St. for all selected board members and anyone else who wishes to attend. Please try to attend this meeting if you are applying.

  • Why do you want to be involved with Thrive Through Cancer?
  • Have you had any experience with cancer or cancer patients?
  • What skills/experience do you think you have that would benefit Thrive Through Cancer?
  • Do you have any non-profit experience?
  • Are you able to meet every other month in Seattle? (board applicants only)
  • Can you commit to the board or volunteering for one year?
  • What kind of volunteering would you like to do for Thrive? (volunteers only)
  • What do you think Thrive Through Cancer should focus on in the future? How can we best help young adults with cancer?

I truly believe Thrive Through Cancer will change the lives of those facing this frightening disease, and I thank you all for your interest in joining that effort!

***Volunteer and board positions are unpaid.

Chemo Con 2013 – Thank you!

June 21, 2013

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Thrive Through Cancer’s first-ever Chemo Con expo was a wonderful success! We would like to thank everyone who helped make this event happen and everyone who attended! If you missed it….

The Swedish Cancer Institute was our wonderful partner and host. You can visit Brian and Kelsey in the Cancer Education Center for tons of educational materials and resources to help you in your treatment journey and survivorship. Connect with them on Facebook too!

We are so grateful to all our amazing community partners as well! Check them out -

Let’s keep connecting! Check out the Thrive Through Cancer facebook page, follow us on Twitter or email us at thrivingwithcancer@gmail.com to learn about more opportunities to connect with young adult cancer survivors.

My hero: Aubrey Bean

June 21, 2013

erikaOn June 18, 2013 Erika Bitzer celebrated another birthday after beating cancer as a young adult. On that same day, she lost her dear friend Aubrey Bean to colorectal cancer. She was kind enough to share these words about her amazing friend:

I am dedicating this birthday to my friend, Aubrey, who passed away today. It’s ironic that it happened on my birthday because Aubrey taught me how to live without fear and to take every moment life offers you. I met her three years ago through a young adults cancer group. I was “cancer free” and trying to figure out how to feel whole again. She was there with cancer still in her body, with a terminal diagnoses. But you would never know it. I was afraid of everything at the time – I was overwhelmed by life, travel, eating, getting sick again, never being as happy as I thought I had been before I had been sick. She was living as though she had nothing left to worry about. She was present, planned for the future and said yes to life.

The best way to understand how Aubrey lived is to hear about Italy. She had been told she’d need to start another round of intensive chemo in 6 months – she was currently undergoing maintenance chemo and on narcotics. She and her husband had been planning to go to Italy in a year. So they moved the trip up and went early. She had recently lost mobility in both of her legs so was now in a wheelchair too. I know you are thinking, poor girl, but you didn’t see any of this in how she showed up in life. She wasn’t dying, she was LIVING with cancer. They spent several weeks in Italy and she wheeled herself all over the cobblestone streets. She joked afterward that her butt was bruised from going over the big stones. It was an amazing trip even though it was hard for her.

When I last saw her, she was saying how much she loved that I say ‘yes’ to life and opportunities that come my way, even if they seem crazy. She told me what I was like when she first met me, how I was so afraid. And I realized that it was her that lifted that from me and taught me how to live…modeled by her attitude and actions, and through many long talks.

I often wonder why someone as incredible as Aubrey or Sarah (my peer supporter during treatments) has to leave us so soon. After my last visit with Aubrey, I reflected on this with one of my friends. He said that maybe my job was to carry forward the gift that Aubrey gave me. I think he’s right.

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First-ever Chemo-Con June 20!

June 9, 2013

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Thrive Through Cancer is pleased to host our first annual expo for young adults with cancer in partnership with Swedish Medical Center!

Chemo-Con!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Swedish Cancer Institute/First Hill – 1221 Madison Street, Seattle

5:30 – 6:15 p.m. | Exhibition tables open, social opportunity

6:15 – 6:30 p.m. | Rose Egge speaks about Thrive Through Cancer

6:30 – 7:15 p.m. | Session 1: Julie Herbst, RD speaks about healthy eating (recipe & sampling provided)

7:15 – 7:30 p.m. | Break, Exhibition tables open

7:30 – 8:15 p.m. | Session 2: Jacci Thompson Dodd, MA, MSSS discusses intimacy and cancer

8:15 – 8:30 p.m. | Q&A opportunity

Come meet Rose Egge, founder of Thrive Through Cancer and join us for two educational and interactive workshops focused on issues commonly experienced by young adults affected by cancer. Learn more about community partners, resources and services available in areas near you.

This is an opportunity for young adults who have been touched by cancer in the Seattle area to come together and network with a proactive and dynamic community!

Please go online to register for this event at www.swedish.org/classes or call 206-386-2502.

If you have any questions about Thrive Through Cancer, contact Rose Egge at thrivingwithcancer@gmail.com.

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