Today marks the start of the 8th annual Young Adult Cancer Awareness week!
Young adults with cancer (defined as those in their teens to early 40’s) face some unique challenges after diagnosis. While friends are out living it up, you are dealing with surgeries, chemo/radiation, body image issues, cognition problems [read: chemo/cancer brain], fertility issues… Not to mention you may or may not have “settled down” so then you are dealing with trying to explain to your potential “Mr. Right” why you have a ginormous scar across your neck or to your young child why you are too tired and sick to even pick them up. Young adults are more likely to not have insurance, have a delay in diagnosis, or are not taken seriously as a cancer patient [ie: you are too young for ___].
Support for young adults living with cancer is improving but is still falling short. We are underrepresented in clinical trials so the latest and greatest treatments may not work, there are little to no YAC support groups, research for our age group is underfunded, and physicians just may not “get” what we are stressing out about. In August of 2007, the National Cancer Institute and the Lance Armstrong Foundation released a report that found that even though cancer survival rates continue to improve in adults middle aged and older, the survival rates for those 15-39 have not risen in over thirty years. Something needs to change!
If you are a YA dealing with cancer, here are some of my favorite resources [ie. the things that kept/keep me sane while dealing with this crappy cancer stuff]: