When Cancer Strikes Early

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by Sarah Strohl

“I don’t understand. I’m too young for this.”

early2There’s never a good or convenient time to hear a cancer diagnosis, but when it seems like you’ve barely started living, it may hit a little harder. Over 70,000 young adults between the ages of 15-39 in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. That’s 70,000 people wondering why this happened to them and trying to figure out what to do next.

It may seem like cancer is trying to steal every last shred of independence you have worked so hard to achieve. “Finances” may suddenly become a much scarier word, and you may face fears about maintaining a normal life as far as relationships, school, career and family building are concerned.

Know this: You are not alone. LIVESTRONG is here to help and there are steps you can take to make this journey much easier.

Build Your Support System

During this time of stressful change, it is important to try and maintain some level of normalcy and stay close with existing friends and family, but sometimes it can be hard for them to understand exactly what you are going through.

Try reaching out to other cancer survivors who may have a better understanding of your situation. Although becoming involved with a support group may seem intimidating, the people you meet there can oftentimes become some of your best friends and strongest allies in your fight. LIVESTRONG Navigation Services can help pair you with a support group.

If you would prefer speaking to someone one-on-one rather than being involved in a group setting, LIVESTRONG’s partner Imerman Angels can provide you with peer connections. Also, the Cancer Hope Network can match you with a trained volunteer cancer survivor who has undergone and recovered from a similar diagnosis.

Planet Cancer is an online community for young cancer survivors in their 20s and 30s to share stories, fears and insight with other people who “just plain get it.” You can blog, post videos, share photos and find other cancer survivors like you in your area.

Learn the Specifics

early1Arm yourself with as much information as you can. Having a firmer understanding of your diagnosis can make the complicated medical jargon you might hear at a doctor’s office seem much less scary.

LIVESTRONG Navigation Services can connect you with The Navigate Cancer Foundation to help improve your health literacy, review your medical reports and results and find the treatment that will work best for you. When you aren’t getting quite enough information from your doctors, an experienced team of oncology nurses is there to listen attentively and walk you through your cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

The American Cancer Society provides a complete database of information for every diagnosis, including research and treatment options. Search here for everything from cancer basics to tips on staying healthy.

If you have questions about clinical trials, or have a desire to be matched with a clinical trial, we will connect you with CureLauncher. They provide free, personal services to health care professionals, cancer survivors and their families.

Have questions about money?  Our partner, The Patient Advocate Foundation is there to inform you about finances and insurance issues, provide you with assistance managing debts and help you navigate the workplace.

Think Ahead about Family

Cancer doesn’t get to have a say in your future. Whether building a family is just on the horizon or hasn’t even crossed your mind, it’s important to think ahead. LIVESTRONG Fertility can help you understand how your cancer diagnosis and treatment plan may affect your fertility, and what options are out there to preserve it (there are options).

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.35.26 AMDownload the App

The absolutely free LIVESTRONG Cancer Guide and Tracker iPad App provides all of the tools you need to navigate your cancer journey, right at your fingertips. Keeping tabs on your appointments, finding information specific to your diagnosis and journaling your experience couldn’t be easier.

Take Action

Take your life back. You are a fighter. You are a survivor.

Here at LIVESTRONG, our goal is to prepare you the best we can for this journey. We are here for you and your loved ones every step of the way. Please give us a call at 1.855.220.7777, fill out our online intake form or visit the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center at 2201 E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78702 for free support and access to all of the resources mentioned here.

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