Through four phases of research on the psychosocial impact of cancer in adolescents and young adults, I have looked at the effect on the family, the experience of treatment and the care setting, survivorship and finally palliative and end of life care. All my observations throughout the process suggest that this age group – from 16-24 – are particularly shocked by a cancer diagnosis, they do not fit well in either paediatric or adult care settings, and they struggle with the loss of their burgeoning independence. However, when treatment fails and there is a terminal diagnosis, all of these age-related issues are exacerbated for the young people, their families and their health care professionals. While most of my research is UK based, these are challenges that transcend national boundaries and are situated in the life stage of the young people.
Tag Archives: young adult cancer
As a cancer patient, I mistakenly thought that once I was given a clean bill of health, I could breathe a sigh of relief and return to my normal life. After a year of treatment, I was finally given my “all clear”. However, my excitement was mixed with nervousness. This was not what I expected. I realized the nerves stemmed from a fear of recurrence. The safety net of being examined by health care professionals on a weekly basis would no longer be there.
by Courtney Kerrigan
As a young child, I thought my best friend would always be there for me. I never imagined cancer would change our relationship so drastically or permanently. My best friend happens to be my identical twin sister. I remember when she was hospitalized in the 2nd grade and I cried myself to sleep because I missed her. We were inseparable and equally unlucky. We both ended up being diagnosed with a proto-oncogene and were encouraged to have prophylactic thyroidectomies. We had our appointment and surgeries on the same day and asked if we could be roommates. This was declined as there was too much risk of confusion having the same last name, birthday and appearance.
I am standing in a sea of dedication bibs. If you’ve ever attended or participated in a Run for the Cure, you’ll know what I mean. Provided by the race organizers, the bib is blank, with a sentence at the top that participants are invited to complete: “I’m running/walking for…” Some participants have made a general, sweeping dedication such as, “Every woman out there who is fighting this terrible disease!” Others aim for simplicity – “For survivors everywhere.”
Have you ever thought about how it would feel to have your life suddenly turned upside down? Everything is going along as planned – maybe not perfect, but fairly “normal” – when suddenly your world crashes around you as your doctor tells you your child has cancer. Parenting a child with cancer is not an easy thing to talk or write about, but Lou Greenzweig generously allows us a peek into his world of parenting his son Matthew, at the time a young adult, through his cancer diagnosis and treatment. Through Lou’s detailed account of a year in his life as a caregiver, we can hear the love and dedication he felt for his son come through loud and clear. Thank you, Lou, for sharing a few of the things you learned along the way with us.
Our Caregiver Section Editor, Pat Taylor, met Lou Greenzweig at the OMG Cancer Summit in Las Vegas earlier this year. Pat was delighted when Lou agreed to write about his experiences with his son, Matthew Zachary, founder of Stupid Cancer.org, for the CKN Caregiver Section. ~Karen Irwin
Pat Taylor is a producer, writer, director, performer and educator whose credits include documentary films, television specials, plays, musicals, short stories, music videos and major tourist attractions. She is also a mother and parent advocate for young adult cancer patients, and the founder of Chasing Rainbows Young Adult Cancer Advocacy, an initiative dedicated to discovering and distributing multi-media support materials for young adults with cancer, and facilitating young adult voices in the cancer community. Pat has produced two documentary films, Sara’s Story and Chasing Rainbows: Young Adults Living With Cancer (both of which feature young adults ages 19 to 29 “living life while fighting for it!”), and has researched and helped to promote many other film resources produced by and for young adults with cancer.