Fairfax, Virginia-based Bite Me Cancer celebrated its sixth anniversary last month. The volunteer-run nonprofit supports teenagers with all cancers and funds thyroid cancer research.
Bite Me Cancer was founded in September 2010 by Nikki Ferraro, then 17, just months after she had been diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer, in an effort to offer support to teens battling cancer.
“Teenage cancer patients have specific needs and interests though often they are grouped with younger children in pediatric wards or with adults who are much older,” Ferraro said.
Through the foundation’s Teen Support Bag program, she set out to fill that need. Each Bite Me Cancer Teen Support Bag includes a stress ball, a Bite Me Cancer baseball cap, a journal for writing and drawing, a water bottle, an Amazon gift card, an adult coloring book, a game book, a Bite Me Cancer car magnet and more.
Now in its fourth year, the Teen Support Bag project has served more than 2,900 teenagers in nearly 75 hospitals in 33 states and in the District of Columbia. This summer, one of the group’s volunteers delivered the bags to a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska.
Bite Me Cancer’s sixth year has also brought new milestones and record-setting efforts, which include:
- A rebranding effort that features a new foundation logo and a brand-new website
- A ribbon-cutting for its new national headquarters at 4400 Fair Lakes Court
- Raised $55,000 at its third “Cancerversary” dinner in April, an amount four times raised the previous year
- Named the foundation’s third thyroid cancer research grant recipient and secured a majority of the funding needed to fund a fourth thyroid cancer research grant
- Surpassed its goal of delivering 1,000 Teen Support Bags by 20 percent in 2015, delivering 1,200 bags.
“I am overwhelmed by the growth and success of Bite Me Cancer,” Ferraro said on the foundation’s anniversary. “We have had an incredible outpouring of support from generous businesses and individuals from across the country who have donated their time, expertise and money to make Bite Me Cancer what it is today.”
Thyroid cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer among children between the ages of 15 to 19 in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Thyroid cancer is also one of fastest-increasing cancer in both men and women and the eighth leading cancer in the U.S.