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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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12th Man raises money to BTHO cancer

Photo courtesy of Raquel Casares

As molecular and cellular biology junior Lorena Casares is battling a rare form of cancer, she is receiving classmate and alumni support through GoFundMe.

This summer, molecular and cellular biology junior Lorena Casares was three classes away from earning her Aggie Ring when she was abruptly diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare, genetic cancer.

On July 8, Lorena created a GoFundMe in order to help cover the costs of her cancer treatments, as well as expenses allocated to her family’s travels associated with visiting her. After posting the fundraiser, the GoFundMe reached $10,000 overnight. As of July 18, she has raised more than double that with a total of $22,835.

“The donations not only provide reassurance that I will get the right treatment but that I’ll have my family by my side as well,” Lorena said. “My mom will now be able to stay with me. She won’t have to worry about money for hotels. My sister can now take off time to visit me. It’s made a world of difference.”

Lorena’s sister, Raquel, was emotional when sharing how much the support means to their family.

“It was amazing to see everybody from everywhere support her,” Raquel said. “The first morning after the GoFundMe went up, I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t stop saying, ‘Wow, just wow.’ I was in awe of the number of donations.”

Economics and psychology junior Jasmine Cobb, one of Lorena’s closest friends, assisted in setting up her GoFundMe page. Lorena said she entrusted Jasmine because of the close bond the two share through their academics and friendship. 

Cobb said she can sum up the kind of person Lorena is in three words: hard-working, passionate and loving.

“Lorena has this amazing ability to set a goal and use any resource available to get it done,” Cobb said. “Something I’m eternally grateful for is  her passion for the world and wanting to do better. It wasn’t until I met Lorena that I felt excited to learn. She also loves her friends so much. Whenever we needed her, she was there no matter what.”

Lorena will take a gap year in order to recover from her treatment, but said this will be unusual for her, as she is an avid learner. She credits one of her professors for her passion for learning about biology.

“I definitely want to shout out Dr. [Samantha] Fletcher from the biology department,” Lorena said. “I went to her office hours twice a week to learn the material. When I sent her an email saying I need to talk to her, she was very reassuring and accommodating. Molecular and cellular biology was my favorite class. I have a new career to look into thanks to her.”

Lorena said she has gratitude to give out to everyone who donated and has never felt more proud to be an Aggie.

“Until this whole movement and receiving all of the support, I did feel a little excluded from the Aggie community,” Casares said. “So many of our donations are from the Class of [19]86 to now. Some donors have shared they are first-generation Aggies, or that they’re also an Aggie battling cancer. I definitely feel the community now.”

Donations can be found here. Lorena’s family said they will post updates for the barbecue plate fundraiser they are planning through social media and other platforms.

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