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Coping with Cancer for Young Adults

Young woman on smartphone

Young adults with cancer face different challenges than children or adults with cancer. Young adults may be concerned with how cancer can impact attending college, getting a job, or starting a family. As a young adult, you may be exploring your independence, but cancer may lead you to feel that independence has been taken away. There are several organizations, online forums, and other resources that can help you cope and find other young adults going through the same thing.

Organizations That Serve Young Adults with Cancer

These organizations can provide information on coping, support, fertility, and survivorship throughout your experience with cancer.

Stupid Cancer, a MyPART advocacy partner, is an online organization that brings teens and young adults together in a setting where there is no judgement or stigma, just a chance to meet others like you and make friends. Stupid Cancer hosts Cancer Con each year, which offers workshops, break-out sessions, and social activities. They also organize regional Facebook groups across the United States so young adults can find those who live close to them. Stupid Cancer has the following resources available to help young adults:

Teen Cancer America, a MyPART advocacy partner, helps hospitals and healthcare systems develop programs specifically tailored to the adolescent and young adult cancer community with the goal of improving survival and quality of life. Read more about Teen Cancer America's educational, financial, lifestyle, and support resources  here.

The Ulman Foundation focuses on supporting young adults with cancer with scholarships for education and free housing for those in treatment near the Baltimore, Maryland area. They host meet-ups for young adults with cancer and host exercise-themed fundraising events, such as “Point-to-point,” a run/walk event from Baltimore to the Florida Keys. 

First Descents coordinates outdoor adventures for adults aged 18 to 39 with cancer and other serious health problems. Activities include climbing, surfing, and kayaking. First Descent programs are held across the United States and around the world. 

Other organization that serve young adults with cancer are listed below:

  • Cactus Cancer Society: Provides online creative coping programs for young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers, including art workshops, journaling programs, book clubs, creative writing workshops, game nights, and more.  All of their programs and resources are delivered online free of charge, and are uniquely accessible regardless of a patient's specific cancer diagnosis, geographic location, financial situation, or inpatient status.
  • Camp-Make-A-Dream: Offers free experience for children and young adult cancer survivors and their families at a camp in Montana
  • Camp One Step: Camp experience for children and young adults (ages 5 through 19) diagnosed with cancer and their families 
  • Look Good Feel Better Foundation: Provides guidance on dealing with hair loss, skin care, and other side effects from cancer treatment for teens and young adults
  • Our Odyssey: Aims to connect young adults experiencing a rare and/or chronic condition with social and emotional support to improve their quality of life
  • The Samfund: Offers financial assistance, education, and online support for young adults experiencing cancer 
  • Triage Cancer: Provides education on the practical and legal issues that may impact individuals experiencing cancer and their caregivers through materials, events, and resources

Online Forums for Young Adults with Cancer

Writing online about your journey with cancer may be healing. It can also help keep family and friends informed about how you are doing when retuning phone calls and texts gets tiresome. Blog sites, like CaringBridge, can provide an outlet you to write about your experiences and get supportive comments from your community. MyLifeLine is another resource that allows young adults to create their own website to share their experiences, connect with others, and receive support.

Challenges for Young Adults with Cancer

Young adults with cancer face unique challenges such as balancing school work during and after treatment, workplace discrimination, and fertility concerns. You can find information on how to handle going back to school through Cancer.Net. Cancer.Net also has advice about dating, relationships, and intimacy for young adults affected by cancer

The Cancer and Careers program provides information on how to deal with workplace discrimination. Cancer.Net has advice on how to prevent workplace discrimination and lists other resources for addressing it. 

The Alliance for Fertility Preservation provides information about how to preserve your fertility during treatment. Livestrong Fertility also has information on fertility and provides discounts for fertility preservation procedures. 

Young People Facing End-of-Life Decisions

It's extremely difficult for anyone, especially young adults in their 20s and 30s, to be told that their treatments haven't worked or have stopped working. The NCI has several resources for young adults facing end-stage cancer. You can find resources on the following topics:

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