As a young adult, being diagnosed with cancer presents a very special set of challenges. Most young adults are in the midst of putting their futures together. They are either in school, training, or have just begun their careers. For some they are newly married and have to lean how to negotiate not only the emotions around the diagnosis, but the treatments that interfere with continuing their lives. Putting your life on hold, at this time is very frustrating isolating and extremely difficult.
Friends are going at a frantic pace, developing their future careers and socializing, going out, and just having carefree fun. Cancer treatments make this almost impossible for most young adults. Living amongst your friends, trying to pretend that everything is okay, trying to maintain this normal world is tough. Not being able to socialize like before the cancer can leave young adults spending a lot of time by themselves. This is a breeding ground for deep sadness, hopelessness, depression and anxiety.
Among the many other issues faced during this time, young adults may have to return to their parent’s home. They may not be able to afford to stay in their dorms, with roommates, or in their apartments or homes. They may have to take leave from school and jobs. This loss of independence is a huge problem and presents families with many challenges. It feels like a step backward in life. When young adults are not established in the work force, it can be more difficult to envision the return to life, or the future.
For newly married couples, the stress of this disease and life change can be overwhelming both emotionally and economically.
Issues to be faced include: medical decisions around areas like fertility, and what this means for the future and having a family; the medical options available in storing sperm and eggs prior to chemotherapy treatments; what this means for future relationships and how partners might feel about this potential complication.
Questions arise, like will I still be wanted as a partner? When do I tell the person that I am dating that I have had, or have cancer? Do I have to tell future employers?
At the Center we understand the challenges that face young adults, when dealing with a diagnosis of cancer. Having a place to talk about one’s feelings; to help problem solve and plan how to handle this time period; to gain insight and strength into managing the future, with whatever physical changes might happen; to gain a perspective about the future; and most importantly to have support for all of these challenges, so that you never have to feel alone.
The hallmark of challenges, during this time, is the insight that anything is doable. With enough emotional and cognitive support, we get through this together, and you get to return to a life that is productive, fulfilling and one you can be proud of.
This is a new area of much interest in research. Watch for our posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, for some of the latest research, medical articles and support groups.