Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) was established in 2000 (originally as RealTime Cancer) by Geoff Eaton after his first cancer challenge. Geoff’s vision focused on educating and supporting young adults. At the core of that vision was the belief that cancer–like all of life’s challenges–brings with it valuable lessons and experiences. For the first three years of operation, which included a cancer relapse and additional treatment for Geoff, YACC focused on the school program and delivery of positive messages to young adults. During a meeting with a mentor on the morning of the 2003 golf tournament, Geoff began a process that would fundamentally change YACC’s vision and operations, while keeping the values and beliefs fully intact.
YACC research revealed that over 8,000 young adults were diagnosed in Canada each year, that their survival rates were virtually unchanged since the 1970s, and–most importantly–there were no readily-available and relevant support programs to help young adults with cancer deal with the very unique issues they face. Life is different in your teens, 20s and 30s; it just makes sense it’s different with cancer, too. Young adults with cancer need and deserve an organization wholly focused on providing customized support programs to help them deal with their cancer experience. Given there was not one organization in Canada with this as its focus the vision was obvious: YACC had to be that national cancer organization providing resources for young adults looking for inspiration, information and support.
In February 2004, the RealTime Cancer Community, a web-based peer support tool, was launched. The site shares stories of young adult survivors and supporters and facilitates their connection. With the launch of the site, YACC developed partnerships with cancer centers and community organizations to aid with promotion. The Community continues to grow and provide essential positive messages to users of the site. By late 2004, YACC began to explore the delivery of its first retreat. Retreat Yourself 2005 was hosted in Newfoundland and Labrador. Geoff summarized the event appropriately when saying, “It was the most significant thing we’ve ever done.” As a result of Retreat Yourself promotion, YACC now maintains relationships with cancer partners in every Canadian province and Retreat Yourself remains an annual event with participation from patients, survivors, and supporters from all regions of the country.
What we’re doing now
Today, YACC is focused on the promotion and evolution of its six primary programs: the online community, Retreat Yourself, Retreat Yourself Adventure, Localife, the Big Cancer Hook-up, and the annual Survivor Conference. YACC is currently based in St. John’s, NL, with an office team of 6.