by Doug Ulman
During my sophomore year at Brown in 1996, playing soccer was my biggest priority until I was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma. At age 19, I abruptly became a cancer survivor, something I?d never imagined myself achieving. I had no idea what chondrosarcoma was and didn’t know anyone my age facing anything remotely similar. After two more diagnoses – of malignant melanoma this time – I missed the reassurance of being able to talk to other college students and young people affected by cancer more than ever. The waiting rooms I spent many hours in were filled with older people and kids, but no one like me.
Having cancer as a young adult means you face a lot of baggage along with your disease. Will having cancer mean I can?t have children? Will I still be able to achieve my goals? Will my body and brain be affected for the rest of my life? And what about insurance, finishing college, getting a job?
Like many young adults fighting cancer, I felt isolated by these questions. While healthy friends are off living their lives, many of us find our diagnosis and treatment interfering with our natural progress towards independence and maturity. College students may struggle to keep up academically. Dating and relationships often take on a whole new context. Young parents, trying to raise a child and go through treatment at the same time, have a host of challenges. And because a lot of young adults don?t have health insurance or it doesn?t occur to them they could have cancer, they wait to go to a doctor until their condition has progressed to a more serious level.
This week we?re talking about these and other issues faced by young adult survivors. We?ll highlight some amazing people who overcame incredible challenges. And we invite you to share your story and post comments on our blog about your fight and your perspective. Together we can build a community of support that will leave no young adult struggling through these issues alone.