by Erin Thigpen
It’s the start of the 12th annual National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. Did you know that close to 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year, and although the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer community faces specific practical, emotional and social challenges, they often don’t have access to the resources they need to overcome them?
That’s why the LIVESTRONG Foundation and Critical Mass: The Young Adult Cancer Alliance came together in 2013 to sponsor a workshop to discuss research and care needs of AYAs and solutions for these challenges. Some of the major issues presented during this workshop included: re-entry into school, the workforce or dating scene, finding insurance coverage and understanding the Affordable Care Act, infertility and other side effects of treatment and mental and physical health issues, secondary malignancies and transitions in cancer care.
Okay, so we know there’s a gap. How do we close it?
Here’s what LIVESTRONG can do to help provide solutions for five of the AYA concerns voiced at the Institute of Medicine Workshop:
- Should I be worried about treatment affecting my fertility?
Fertility preservation is often not talked about until it’s too late, but when treatment puts your fertility at risk, it’s important to know your options. LIVESTRONG Fertility services can help you get information, locate resources in your area and figure out how to get funding to make fertility preservation a reality. Our online Fertility Risk Calculator can help you assess how common cancer treatments might impact your fertility—but be sure to talk to your doctor for more detailed information relevant to your situation.
- I have a lot to talk about and no one to talk to.
No matter how strong your support system is, there might be some things you just can’t talk about with friends or family. When that happens, don’t be afraid to reach out to us for one-on-one support. A LIVESTRONG Navigator can help you find counseling, advice and support groups near you for your specific age group or cancer type. Our website also has a series of podcasts just for young adults that address issues like relationships, self-esteem, body image, career guidance, going back to school and planning for the future.
- How do I finance treatment? Am I eligible for health insurance?
A cancer diagnosis can throw your finances for a serious loop, but we can connect you with the resources you need to get financial assistance. Our partners at the Patient Advocate Foundation can help you understand how to apply for medication assistance and insurance coverage, deal with employment issues and much more. Our LIVESTRONG Navigatiors can even help you apply for scholarships to pay for school—read about how we helped Gabriel when he was diagnosed.
Meeting people is hard enough, but what about connecting with cancer survivors who understand what you’re going through? Imerman Angels was created by 20-something cancer survivor Jonny Immerman who wanted to address this problem. The organization matches anyone seeking cancer support with a mentor of the same age and gender so you can ask those tricky questions and talk to someone who just gets it.
- I’m done with treatment…what’s next?
We heard from a lot of young adults who felt they needed more help navigating life after treatment, including things like dealing with the long-term after effects of treatment, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and obtaining follow-up care. The LIVESTRONG Care Plan is a survivorship plan you can create and go over with your doctor that contains your treatment history and information on what to expect after treatment. You can also use it to inform future doctors about your medical history so they have all the facts, and it can help you become a stronger advocate for your health and wellness.
You can visit the We Can Help section of our website for more resources for young adults, including articles, survivor interviews, links to resources and organizations and more. Contact a LIVESTRONG Navigator to get one-on-one support today by calling 1-855-220-7777 or by filling out our Online Intake Form.