Transitioning into your 20s and 30s is difficult; the job market is tough, real estate is expensive and the cost of tuition is at an all time high. Learning how to live on your own is difficult.
Now imagine that you have just finished cancer treatment. You have lost valuable time and savings. You feel like you are years behind everyone else in your age group. To top it off, you are suddenly faced with many expenses you didn’t have to think about during treatment. In addition, you are trying to pay off residual medical bills while acquiring new ones through follow-up tests and check-ups.
When all of these issues collide, how do you find a job, pay for rent and afford school?
After a conference entitled “I’m Too Young for This” opened our eyes, Samantha Watson created The SAMFund in 2003. Diagnosed in 1999 with Ewing’s Sarcoma and in 2001 with Secondary Myelodysplastic Syndrome (with a bone marrow transplant in August of 2001), she saw how little support there was for young adults who were struggling once treatment ended. As she quickly came to learn, cancer isn’t free.
To this day, The SAMFund remains the only nonprofit organization in the country that provides direct financial assistance and free online support and education to young adults, regardless of where they live or their specific cancer diagnosis. Since 2005, The SAMFund has awarded $1.35 million in grants and provided a free Webinar series, “Moving Forward With Your Financial Health,” offering young adults the tools and guidance they need to be able to move forward with their lives.
The SAMFund has four full-time staff members, an eleven-member Board of Trustees and an extensive network of volunteers (including many past grant recipients who are now paying it forward). With relatively low overhead costs, The SAMFund is able to allocate close to 95% of all funds raised to programs for young adult survivors.