To celebrate AYA Cancer Awareness week, we asked our YACCtivist team to answer the question: What do you want others to better understand about the AYA cancer experience?
Here are a few of their answers:
“When I was diagnosed with cancer at 20 years old, I had no idea that my diagnosis would affect me for the rest of my life. As a young adult living with cancer, people often underestimate the impact it has on various parts of who I am. I wish people would be more open to talking about the hard parts, allowing me to be more vulnerable and less “strong”. Perhaps then they might understand how difficult cancer really is and just how much it has changed my life.”
“Cancer does not end with treatment. I am four years post-treatment and I have challenges with the effects of my cancer treatment every single day. Please reach out to your friends who have had cancer, the same as you would friends currently going through treatment.”
“We need medical professionals to acknowledge that cancer happens at any age. At first signs/symptoms presented, cancer should never be ruled out because of age.”
“We need patience from friends and family beyond treatment — we’re not ok yet and often feel very lost. Also, it should be expected we need a long time to get back to work. We need support services available outside of business hours.”
“When diagnosed with cancer as an AYA, your life is uprooted just as it’s getting started. Instead of being able to focus on and enjoy the typical AYA milestones such as increasing independence, new careers/educational opportunities, relationships, and parenthood, you have to focus on staying alive. And while you are doing that, it feels like the rest of the world is just moving on without you.”