The Journey to UpCancer
Mary Maude Davis

            Majority of people do not know a cancer survivor is a person diagnosed with cancer until the day they die. Rico Dence is determined to educate and empower those effected by cancer. Rico is founder of Up Cancer, and was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia in November 22, 2014. One morning he woke up and everything thing was blurry. He could no longer read a book or read a street sign.  With urgency and fear, Dence went to the eye doctor.  The eye doctor told him it could be one of two things: cancer or high cholesterol. Little did Dence know, he was in for a rollercoaster for the next few weeks. He was admitted into the hospital for 10 days. Rico was in danger of having a heart attack because his cancerous white blood cells rupture the blood vessels in the retina, and was borderline blind. Thankfully after 8 months later, he has gained most of his eyesight back.
2015 was one of the worst years of his life. He returned to work as a sessional assistant clerk at Connecticut General Assembly, and no fulltime positon opened. With the money he saved up, he bought a car to build a photography business. His dream came to a screeching halt, for the day after he bought his car, the head gaskets blew, and the previous owner would not work with him to lower the price of the car. Nothing was going his way, it was one hard hit after another. Rico came into major depression because of his life obstacles: vision, cancer, and a bad roommate.  Dence soon decided he needed to deal with his difficulties.  He checked himself into group therapy to learn how to talk and deal with his emotions.  This led him to drafting a book called, “The Vision: Learning a Heart of Gratitude,” which is still being processed.
Rico realized in 2016 that he wasn’t ready to go back to work, for he was still consumed and embarrassed by all his struggles and cancer. He was fearful of not being able to relate coworkers, for he recently recovered from major depression and still lives with a chronic cancer. 2015 was a year consumed with one hardship after another.  He decided to travel around the United States doing photography, odd jobs, to create positive experiences and to enjoy life once again.
A month prior traveling the United States, a lady mentioned you should advocate for young adults dealing with cancer. With her suggestion, Dence found his calling in life.  See, he been attending multiple support groups for young adult cancer survivors. He learned of the struggles of young adults with cancer faced. Additionally, with his experience at Connecticut General Assembly, he knew the legislative process, and what it would take to get legislation passed.
Since July 2016 he has been on a mission; couch surfing, sleeping in the car, and giving up basic convinces.  He has been tirelessly working his way around the United State to talk to legislators to introduce new legislation. One of the legislative causes Dence was successful in getting introduced in Oregon was require primary care physicians to add a question: “Are you a registered bone marrow donor?”  to the medical history form. However, the legislation did not pass for he did not have the time to gather the support he needed to get the legislation to pass.
After a year of talking to cancer survivors and attending difference cancer support organization.  As the founder of Up Cancer and year being on the road, Rico developed a clear direction to address the needs of the young adult cancer support community.  Up Cancer objective is to educate and empower young adults, friends, and family during the cancer journey.   Many friends, family, and young adults affected by cancer do not know how to grieve and accept the hard journey that cancer brings or the possible loss of a young life. It can be a very lonely and isolating time for everyone involved.  Up Cancer objective is to help educate everyone involved, so if we have 50 years or less to live.  We Live It! 
A cancer survivor, and friends and family of a cancer survivor, it is our responsibility to help other future cancer survivors, so Rico created the legislative arm of Up Caner to comply with IRS regulations called “Team Up Cancer.” Dence needs your help to bringing awareness to this organization that can bring so much to these individuals facing cancer.