The Myths surrounding Survivorship

Most often, being a “cancer survivor” as a young adult implies that the survivor should be grateful for being alive, and to “get on with life.” In actuality, surviving cancer comes with some serious challenges — post-treatment side effects, disability, insurance battles, family and relationship challenges, financial struggles, body issues, sex and fertility barriers, career struggles, confidence and identity loss and more.  Often the struggles of life post-cancer are more difficult than the disease itself, yet survivorship is not something that is commonly “treated”.  Not many people recognize this.

Sheryl Ness, a nurse educator at the prestigious Mayo Clinic talks about the challenges of surviving cancer as a young adult:

“You may be at a point in your life when you’re sorting through educational opportunities, exploring new work experiences and lifestyle options. Now, suddenly your focus is redirected to learning more about your cancer, navigating treatment options and managing the many challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis. Other concerns that young adults with cancer may encounter include:

  • Fragmented or no insurance coverage
  • Maintaining an independent living environment
  • Living far from your immediate family
  • Peer support
  • Privacy
  • Dating, intimacy, relationships and fertility
  • Maintaining self-esteem and a sense of normal life
  • Inexperience navigating the medical system
  • Managing medical treatment, side effects of treatment and coordinating care following treatment
  • Tracking and management of long-term or late effects of cancer treatment as they transition through the adult years

Research shows that young adult cancer survivors may have poorer outcomes as a whole because of a variety of factors. These factors include delayed diagnosis (symptoms may be ignored or attributed to other things), limited access to clinical trials, fragmented medical care (young adults may be in between their pediatrician care and finding an adult care provider), lack of education and awareness related to risk factors and knowledge of cancer screening strategies.”

The medical community is starting to recognize the unique needs of young adults with cancer, but support services are still limited.  In an effort to provide, and spread the word on, an alternative support experience to young adults struggling with life during and after cancer, Athletes for Cancer is continually developing and nurturing relationships with social services departments at various cancer centers across the country. Help us spread the word.
Athletes for Cancer creates life-changing experiences for young adult cancer fighters and survivors through outdoor adventure programs that challenge, support, and inspire individuals to rebuild their lives after cancer.
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