Why I Unmasque

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As part of National Young Adult Cancer Awareness week, we are thrilled to feature committee member Jenna Bragg on today’s blog! Below, Jenna shares what Unmasque Cancer means to her, and why being on this year’s planning committee is so personal. 

Three weeks to go until we Unmasque Cancer in Los Angeles! On Saturday, April 29, 2017, we will celebrate the power of community and remind those dealing with cancer that they are never alone. Even if you’re not in the LA area, you can still be part of this special event. Light a tribute candle in honor or in memory of a loved one to #UnmasqueAndUnite wherever you are!

This blog post was hard for me to write… I couldn’t figure out why, until it hit me that I didn’t know how to properly articulate what the Unmasque Cancer event and The Samfund means to people like me. People like me… Young adults trying to rebuild our lives after cancer derailed us. You see, I never thought I’d be this person; someone who at the age of 26 would be diagnosed with Stage II Thyroid Cancer, and at the age of 29 worries every month if she can afford the medication she needs to keep her alive. Some might say that’s dramatic, but it’s the truth. Cancer ruins your body, uproots your life plans, puts your career on hold and more often than not, destroys your financial stability. That’s where The Samfund comes in.

The Samfund can help ease one of those hardships. Beating cancer is hard enough, without having to worry about what will be waiting for you “on the other side.” As a cancer fighter, we know our lives will never be the same. We know our bodies will never be the same. At least with organizations like The Samfund, we can find some financial peace and know that our basic needs will not go unmet and unmanaged.

But Unmasque is so much more to me. Standing in the candlelit room of last year’s gala, I realized I wasn’t the only one… I wasn’t the only one who worried about my future. I wasn’t the only one who had to scrape together last month’s copay for my medication costing almost half of my paycheck. I wasn’t the only one who, while grateful for getting through the darkest of my cancer days, was also so exhausted from trying to rebuild my life. I no longer had to feel embarrassed or ashamed that I wasn’t farther along in my career, or that I hadn’t accrued anything in my retirement fund because I needed every penny from my paycheck each month.

Sure I had friends who understood some of my struggles. I had friends with cancer, but this moment was different. I was no longer alone in my fear of the future, be it healthwise or financially. And that feeling: that overwhelming-bring-tears-to-my-eyes-can’t-breathe moment, was all thanks to the amazing people at The Samfund, who put together the Unmasque Cancer event, not just to raise money, but more importantly to let people like me know that we are not alone & there is a hope for our future; both in health and financial stability.

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