National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week


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.



  1. Erika says:

    My boyfriend was diagnosed with an unusual type of lymphoma immediately after fourth grade. He was extremely strong throughout the chemo-therepy and radiation. However, I recently learned that the radiation he recieved shortly before ending his two year chemo term made him lose most of him memory from those two years. It was very hard to hear this of course because we have always been best friends. I decided long ago that I was going to be an oncologist and try to help these amazing people through their lives.

  2. Elizabeth Varga says:

    I was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in 1971 when I was 19. Fortunately, I was operated on by a very skilled and well-known orthopedic surgeon in New York, Dr. Kenneth Francis. I had a fibulaectomy which saved my life. The unfortunate part about it was that no one would tell me what I had. I didn’t find out until 7 years later that the tumor had been malignant and until I requested my records from the hospital (finally got them on the third try) many, many years later, I didn’t know that what I had was Ewing’s sarcoma. It seems so bizarre to me that my family let me go through a good part of my life like that, keeping me in the dark. I often wonder, what if the operation hadn’t been successful, wasn’t anybody going to tell me that I was dying? Looking back on it, it was very isolating, not to mention the fact that it was my body and I had a right to know. Overall though, I consider myself to be very blessed that I was put on a path that led to Dr. Francis because he saved my life.

    I’m glad that situations like this have changed quite a bit over the years and even very young children are usually told exactly what they’ve been diagnosed with now.

  3. K.Hawley says:

    I am an 8 month, 27 year old female survivor of colon cancer. I had to to leave the US to afford my treatment and to get my diagnosis because no insurance company would accept me. My severe anemia, chronic side aches & other side affects went undiagnosed for 5 years because I was “too young” to have any serious problems.
    I have since gotten back to my “normal” life and feel blessed every day to be a survivor. Thank you livestrong for promoting awareness for young adults with cancer.

  4. Say, you got a nice blog.Really thank you!

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