How It Began

THRIVR was initially founded by Lauren Lopez and Jonny Puglia as an idea to empower young adults living with cancer.

It started as a simple Instagram connection between two 30-year-olds. Both of them were facing insurmountable odds with their Stage IV cancer diagnosis.

Through their numerous discussions, Lauren and Jonny bonded over the lack of resources young adults have access to when faced with such a devastating condition. “This specific age group [18 to 40-year-olds] seems to have the hardest transition” Lauren continues, “We are in the [bad] Goldilocks zone. We are at the transitioning period into true adulthood, separating from our parent’s responsibility with the burden of debt and ownership.”.

Lauren Lopez and Jonny Puglia (9/2019) after their initial ThrivR meeting

Getting diagnosed with cancer as a young adult can feel extremely isolating. This is exceptionally true as you look outward to your friends, who are starting their lives by getting married, starting their families, and/or buying their first home. This does not only feel unfair but debilitating in thought. Your only accomplishment is to focus all your physical and mental strength on survivorship – oftentimes against impossible odds!

As their discussions continued into late 2019, it was clear that they needed to take action to not only help the lives of these individuals but to motivate them with support and connection. Creating a platform for these “thrivers” to create, manage and add onto – sharing not only their journey with cancer but normalizing the stigma behind this dreadful disease!

As they continued to organize and plan, additional attributes needed to be included; more specifically education, advocacy, and most importantly community! “When I was first diagnosed my mind went completely numb.” says Jonny, “I was taught to always follow the doctor’s orders and to never question them, even when it seemed foreign to me. I just bite my lip and told myself, the doctor knows best.”

What was more staggering was the complete uniformity of care when it comes to this age range. To the everyday person, we are told that “you are too young for cancer”. Yet oncologists and other cancer-focused medical professionals STILL treat us with the same bag of tricks which often spawn additional debilitating challenges for those who achieve remission or are “cured” in the eyes of these professionals. Most treatment centers have little to no mindset or therapeutic resources, other than in-person or “Zoom” meetings with other cancer patients. “One time zooming in and finding that I was the youngest person there BY 30 years!” Jonny recalls. How can a 30-year-old diagnosed with stage IV cancer even comprehend their options when their doctor ignores the young patient’s limited beliefs?!”.

The word THRIVE kept appearing throughout Lauren and Jonny’s lengthy conversations. More and more this phrase occluded the way they labeled themselves with cancer. Eventually the phrase “cancer patient” was replaced with the word “Thriver”. Jonny emphasizes, “We wish to grow out of any label that prefixes us with cancer. Removing any power to the word cancer!”

The word THRIVER is used throughout this initiative to signify not only those that had been diagnosed but more importantly, those that have to go above and beyond with this traumatic disease… every day of their lives! Overcoming battles that from the everyday perspective seems insurmountable.

The Merriam-Webster definition of “Thrive”

Since the phrase “THRIVE” has been used countlessly and throughout various settings, Lauren and Jonny decided to alter the phrase to make it unique to our setting.
Hence where the name “THRIVR” originated from.

What stood out most was the 3rd definition, from the graphic above.

“We wish to grow out of a label that connects us with the word cancer, removing any power that word leashes onto us,” Jonny mentions.

This is where the phrase “THRIVE OVER SURVIVE” came from. Embracing the daily struggle yet, focusing on the future, where they intend to live their lives dedicated to improving not only themselves but others they come across!

THRIVR is an acronym that defines what it truly means to thrive over survive:

Click here to learn more about what THRIVR means

Who Is THRIVR for?

Y.A.Y.A.H! The goal of THRIVR is to create a platform for young adults with a history of cancer, to empower themselves with self-expression through Community, Education, and Advocacy; shifting cultural narratives and misconceptions surrounding cancer on a personalized platform designed by them! Allowing others to view their content, at their own speed.

Y.A.Y.A.H Cancer Community

Have you ever felt forced to feel limited because of your diagnosis or felt like you fit into the “Goldilocks zone” of resources to help you feel affirmed? It’s quite common; those on the older age spectrum make up the largest population of individual who are living with cancer. That means each time you visit your oncologist or seek out a peer support group you most likely will feel alone with little hope.

  • Y.A.Young Adult: Someone within the age range of 18-41
  • Y.A.H.Young At Heart: Anyone that has a willingness to thrive on, regardless of age

THRIVR is designed to break that mold and affirm those living with cancerregardless of their young age OR willingness to thrive on – deserve a community of their own. To showcase themselves in any format, passing down knowledge and taking advantage of their experiences to truly change the way we look at young adults (and the young at heart) with cancer.

November 2019: Jonny & Lauren posing at their first ThrivR photoshoot in Littleton, MA.

Our Features

Fierce, Fighting Fridays
Introducing young adults who are thriving with or past their diagnosis, with a Q&A welcoming them on ThrivR. If you are interested in becoming our next Fierce, Fighting Friday feature, please click here. We will email you back the questions and further instructions!

Take control of your narrative with a page dedicated to YOU and how you wish to express yourself living as a THRIVR! Create your profile on your timeline with the ability to journal, blog, and most importantly showcase to the world (and your local community) what it means to thrive over survive. Create your FREE profile today by clicking here.

The THRIVR’s Network
An online community, currently housed on our Facebook Group, that is welcome to any individual looking to connect with others like-minded, who have a history with cancer – no matter their stage, remission status, or cancer type. Click here to join

#HealthcareFailedMe series [coming soon]
Tell us a time when healthcare has failed you; whether it was because of a policy, insurance, hospital, or other healthcare professionals. The goal of this series is to collect and share experiences that can help inspire others through adversity, while also generating advocacy to reform the way we are treated and seen. If you are interested in sharing your story please please click here.