The Herd

Here are our authors – we love them, you should too!

Mallory Casperson

Mallory is the CEO and Founder of Lacuna Loft. She has an MS and half a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her Master’s and PhD, Mallory worked with the Air Force Research Lab as well as NASA on high temperature metal fatigue experiments and simulations. She left graduate school in August 2013 and launched a nonprofit, Lacuna Loft, in April 2015. Applying her love for engineering and technology to her nonprofit endeavor, Mallory manages operations, programs, and development at Lacuna Loft where online support programs and resources are provided to young adult cancer survivors and caregivers in the comfort of their own homes. Mallory is an avid lover of animals, running, swimming, hiking, being outside, reading, making things, and TV or movie marathons.View Posts by Mallory Casperson

Jennifer Anand

Meet Jen Anand. Every week Jen will be providing a new tip or two on approaching life during and after cancer to help inspire others. Jen was diagnosis with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January 2012, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments for 8 months. Jen is now a survivor and just celebrated her 5 year anniversary this year as cancer free! "Never in my life did I think I’d be writing this, for a magazine for young adults affected by cancer. But then again, never did I think I’d get the exclusive invite to this horrible cancer club. But here I am, and if you’re reading this, chances are you’re in the club too."View Posts by Jennifer Anand

Nick Giallourakis

Nick is the President and co-founder of Elephants & Tea. He is the brother of a two time cancer survivor, Steven, who is his inspiration for starting the new media magazine. Nick will be providing his point of view as a brother of a cancer patient and survivor. You'll hear from him from time to time. When not working on the magazine he is out playing sports or kayaking with his wife. Let's be honest, he is probably with their french bulldog Aubrey who essentially owns Nick and his wife Camilla.View Posts by Nick Giallourakis

Hannah Starkey

In September of 2018, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 24. I quickly found myself unable to cope and accept my illness. I wanted to know more about what other young adults experienced. So I did what I always do when I don’t understand something: research. I started with some keywords: cancer / hodgkin’s lymphoma / young adult / female Kinda sounds like a dating profile, doesn’t it? I scrolled through about 15 pages before becoming frustrated. The only results I found were from, WebMD, or scholastic articles. All good sources for information- but not what I was looking for. I took a different approach and still came up short. Then I looked specifically for blogs. I found some, but not many. The point is, I want to be able to send my words into the inter-web so that its there for others and myself. I hope that the words written within this website reaches someone who needs it. I hope it reaches someone like me who has so many unanswered questions. All I can do is share what I’ve experienced and how I coped with it. If you have cancer, young or not, please know that you aren’t alone. And if you don’t have cancer but just want to read because you care, I encourage it and I love you and appreciate you. xoxo HannahView Posts by Hannah Starkey

Marloe Esch

Marloe Esch, RN, BSN, Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN), and young adult cancer survivor, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing (Go Badgers!) in 2008. An enthusiastic supporter of sexual health and wellness, she has had the opportunity to spend time in her community educating both survivors and healthcare professionals on the topic of cancer and sexuality, including presenting for the Young Survival Coalition, the Oncology Nursing Society Wisconsin Capitol Chapter, and Planned Parenthood of WI. She holds a certificate from the Sexual Health Certificate Program through the University of Michigan, training in both Sexuality Education and Sexuality Counseling, and has made it her mission to bring sex into the survivorship spotlight. Currently, Marloe is a Breast Care Nurse Navigator in Milwaukee, WI. She lives in the Bay View neighborhood her husband and their cat, Princess Leia, in a fixer-upper that has “a lot of potential.” When she’s not at work or supervising her husband’s house projects, you’re likely to find her reading, writing, running, playing guitar, or enjoying a cold beverage and contemplating life. She’s also fairly competent at crochet, which comes in handy during the cold, dark Wisconsin winters. Feel free to give her a shout out at and let her know what questions you’ve got about sex, intimacy, and cancer!View Posts by Marloe Esch

Angie Giallourakis

Angelike (Angie) Giallourakis has a Ph.D. in Special Education and a M.ED. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Kent State University. Prior to her son Steven's first cancer diagnoses in 2006 she was a college professor at Cleveland State University where she taught future special educators about the importance of being a family centered educator when meeting the needs of children with disabilities. Steven's second diagnosis in 2009, a BMT (bone marrow transplant) and and the impact of treatment on his survivorship generated Angie's desire to learn as much as possible about cancer in young people. She founded and serves as President of The Steven G AYA Cancer Research Fund - a non profit charity whose mission is to support AYA Cancer Research, Wellness, Patient Education and Social Support She serves as a Board of Director for the three non-profit charities: The Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2); Clinical Research Pathways; and the ASBMT (American Society of Bone Marrow Transplantation) Pediatric Quality Outcomes Committee. Angie also volunteers as a Parent Mentor for Pediatric, AYA Cancer Patients and Families) at Rainbow, Babies & Childrens' Hospital and Seidman Cancer Center, University Hospitals of Cleveland. Most recently she joined the Herd and is the CEO of Elephants and Tea - the voice of AYA Cancer Patients. She strongly believes that only through a collaborative and caring spirit will this horrible disease finally be eradicated.View Posts by Angie Giallourakis

Mitch Lortz

Mitch Lortz was diagnosed with terminal Stage IV Synovial Sarcoma at the age of 20. He is now 24 living in Boston, MA with his Fiance, Sydney and dog, Meatloaf. You can usually find him at Mass General Hospital but he also splits his time between his professional career in Marketing and managing his personal cancer blog. In an attempt to use humor and a positive attitude to promote wellness, Mitch has been writing for his blog Are You For Serious? - and covers topics ranging from the positive aspects of cancer to dealing with hemorrhoids and other chemo side effects.View Posts by Mitch Lortz

Amelia Baffa

Amelia Baffa is the Angie Fowler Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Nurse Navigator at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. Ms. Baffa is responsible for care coordination, onco-fertility preservation, program and service line development, patient and staff education, AYA research, and program funding. She has been a nurse for 34 years, and has worked in various capacities such as: hematology-oncology inpatient, surgical intensive care and trauma, medical-surgical, staff development, pediatric care coordination, patient blood management, she has held several management positions, served as Director of Nursing Practice for a healthcare consulting company. She has presented both nationally and internationally, as well as chaired multiple conference committees. She was awarded the University Hospital Trustee Award for Nursing Excellence and the Red Cross Community Hero Award, in 2015. She was the grant recipient of the Community CureSearch Grant and is the Principal Investigator for a young adult cancer distress study. In 2016 she was awarded a scholarship from Teen Cancer America to become one of the first nurses in the US to attend Coventry University (UK), Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Management, Post-Graduate Certification program (Amelia has a MSN specializing in health education). She completed the course in spring of 2018. Amelia is keenly interested in the AYA population and is an active and caring advocate. Her mission is to create programs and services to help them re-engage with life, as they discover who they are after cancer. In 2018 she became a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner- Board Certified. Her goal is to build a psychiatric service line to help pediatric and young adults patients with mental health/addiction issues through mental health screening, diagnostic assessment, psychotropic management, and psychotherapy. In August of 2018 Amelia was accepted into one of only 5 APRN psychiatric fellowships in the US. She participates in the fellowship part-time at Portage Path Behavioral Health Center, in Akron Ohio. Where there she treats patients with mental health issues and addiction, she also works on community oriented key performance issued mental health initiatives to improve care and quality of life.View Posts by Amelia Baffa

Shannon Fitzgerald

Shannon Fitzgerald MS RDN LD, is a school based dietitian in suburban Cleveland. She is the founder of FIT KID TEXT. She teaches yoga and is passionate about healthy living; aiming high and true. Friends, family and especially her four young adult children are her heart and soul.View Posts by Shannon Fitzgerald

Danielle A. Cloakey

When I was 15 and a half months old, I was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, and given only a 10-40% chance of living until my 6th birthday. After 2 major surgeries, chemo, and radiation, when I was two, I came down with viral encephalitis. My immune system could not fight it because it was wiped out by chemo, and the infection ended up damaging my brain stem. I had two horrible ear infections that nobody caught, so maybe that had something to do with it as well. After this, I lost my strength, my voice, most of my hearing, and my ability to swallow. I always thank God that I'm not an only child because I don't like to think about where I'd be without my two younger brothers and my sister, who helped show me the way back to myself. People always think I have cerebral palsy, but I wasn't born with it. It is very similar to it though. I struggle daily with my side effects from treatment, which include disabilities, hearing loss, a speech impairment, radiation-induced scoliosis, I graduated in June 2004 from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in English (literature). I have always love writing because it gives me a clear voice. In late 2010, I learned the truth about childhood cancer and I have been an advocate ever since.View Posts by Danielle A. Cloakey

Christa Wilkin and Kate Fraser

View Posts by Christa Wilkin and Kate Fraser