This week is AYA (Adolescent & Young Adult) Cancer Awareness Week. Yes, I qualify as a young adult (I googled it).
I was just one of 89,500 AYAs (in the US) diagnosed with cancer last year.
AYAs are the most underserved cancer population by age. I sit in a chemo chair surrounded by patients 20-30 years older than me. And I’ve been involved with childhood cancer orgs/programs for my whole life – where there are tons of resources.
The goal of this week is to raise awareness about how hard it can be for young adults under 40 to deal with cancer while trying to keep up with their lives. The hope is to educate on the unique challenges AYAs face and show what their community can do to support them.
One of the cancer accounts I follow, Stupid Cancer, posted on their instagram a series of challenges AYAs deal with and each slide resonated with my experience.
Luckily in my case I was diagnosed in my thirties so I’ve finished school and started a career but I do not have a significant other. Dating during cancer treatment is hard enough but throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix and ya girl has never felt more single.
I don’t feel like myself, with all my ailments, but also I don’t look like myself. So it’s hard to imagine getting to know someone else when I feel so off. I know I’m still me but I want to be the best version of me when I’m possibly meeting my person. But also, I just want to have fun with my girls when this pandemic ends… so who cares anyway? lol
I’ve always been super independent. I haven’t lived with my parents since I was in high school so having them move to California to help take care of me was an adjustment.
I don’t really know how I would have survived this last year with out them upstairs to help. There were so many things that I normally would easily do for myself but all of the sudden couldn’t handle. I couldn’t do my own laundry, cook meals, grocery shop, drive to appointments, clean, walk up stairs, clip my finger nails, open bottles, pick up items, reach for things… the list goes on.
I mean not so long ago I was so weak that I couldn’t even button my jeans.
I was diagnosed at the beginning of the pandemic last year. Not being able to have visitors in the hospital with me for the months I was there alone was bad enough. But I also have to go to the clinic and all doctor’s appointments by myself and haven’t been able to go to friends houses or have visitors in my home. I’ve never spent so much time alone in my life.
Thank goodness for technology but I crave social interactions. I miss my friends.
I constantly talk with my friends about how it’s a silver lining that I did the rough part of my treatment during the pandemic so I didn’t miss out on too much. But I still have FOMO from the few little adventures that I am unable to do. Just a couple more weeks until I’m fully vaccinated!
Holy moly the scanxiety is real. I imagine this won’t ever get easier. I’ll live with this the rest of my life.
When I can’t sleep I google statistics about relapses and then my mind races and I just have to remind myself that I can’t even go there. I just have to manifest that I’ll only have to fight cancer this one time.
Sometimes I think about my brother who died from ALL but then I also think of my friend Natalie who had the same diagnosis when she was a kiddo and is doing great.
Deep breaths and happy thoughts…
This is one of the first things I thought of when I was diagnosed becuase many of my cancer survivor friends have had a difficult time with fertility along with the fact that I’m over 30 and do not have a husband or kids but do have a ticking biological clock.
I am currently in chemical menopause, in an attempt to save some of my eggs. Heyooo hot flashes. But I’m still in treatment until I’m 33 and there’s no guarantee I’m going to meet someone anytime soon. I’ll most likely freeze my eggs, if there are any left. TMI? I just know that I would very much like to be a mother.
I know it’ll all work out one way or another but this is a topic that’s often in the back of my mind.
Thank goodness I have great health insurance but I still have so many medical expenses that aren’t covered. I would much rather be spending that money on anything else. There are still a bunch of pending charges on my account that are like your insurance paid 90% of this bill but you owe $10,000 and I just have to wait and see if I’m actually charged that.
One day I was looking up on my account how much my first month in the hospital cost and it was $600,000.00. Let me say it again – six hundred thousand dollars. For one month! What do people who don’t have insurance do? That is not ok.
I read a comment on the instagram post that was from a young man saying he was diagnosed with ALL (which is my diagnosis) at 35 and was out of work for 3 years and I just thought how lucky am I that the longest I was out of work was for 6 weeks. I’m so grateful that I can work from home and feel well enough (most days) to do so. It’s actually given me something to do that makes me feel productive and helps pass the time. I can’t wait to actually get back to the office to be able to work in person. Again, I miss that human interaction. I’m sure a lot of people do.
I am not a part of any support group and haven’t participated in any cancer events, mostly due to the pandemic but also I’m just not aware of many for my age group/diagnosis. My clinic/cancer/hospital experience isn’t like a movie where I meet my soulmate or bff in the clinic… my empath soul just gets pretty sad waiting amongst the older patients, I wear my headphones so I don’t have to hear the old men snoring and try to make friends with the nurses because they’re the only ones around my age.
After the pandemic, my friend Lizzy and I plan to volunteer with a cancer organization. Everything’s on hold at the moment so we’ll have to do some research to find the right one when we’re able to. I’ll keep ya’ll posted.
For more info and/or resources on AYA Cancer Awareness visit the Stupid Cancer website.
Th-th-that’s all, folks.