A cancer diagnosis as an adult is difficult. Though my cancer diagnosis at 34 technically fell into the AYA (adolescent and young adult) segment of the cancer population of 15-39, I had the support of my family, friends and co-workers. I was old enough to handle changes in my appearance, disruptions in my career, financial challenges and sterility. Fortunately I froze some of my sperm, artificially inseminated Dawn, my wife and had a son. Alex was born on 9/25/98. Anyone who would like to discuss fertility issues can ask me a question scrolling down the page and making a comment.
(Ed. Note- Alex is finishing his freshman year at college)
Conventional oncology focuses on physical cancer therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The article below talks about the need for AYA cancer survivors to have mental healthcare and information.
If you have been diagnosed recently you may find that the world of cancer survivorship has changed dramatically since I was diagnosed in early 1994. Social media makes it relatively easy for us cancer survivors to communicate with each other. There is nothing better that communicating with people who have experienced what you have experienced.
I am both a cancer survivor and cancer coach. Are you an AYA cancer survivor? Do you have questions? Please click on “Ask a question” and tap into the wealth of information and support offered by PeopleBeatingCancer.
MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) — Many teens and young adults diagnosed with cancer aren’t receiving the social, psychological and informational support they require, new research suggests.
Cancer patients aged 14 to 39 have different needs and issues than younger and older patients, the researchers explained.
“When patients in this age group are diagnosed with cancer, they face issues — premature confrontation with mortality, changes in physical appearance, disruptions in school or work, financial challenges and loss of reproductive capacity — that can all be particularly distressing,” study lead author Bradley Zebrack, associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in a university news release.
“Whether it’s mental health care, information for topics like infertility or other aspects of care like camps or retreat programs, this study shows that many of these patients aren’t getting the care they need to address these unique challenges,” he added.
Zebrack and colleagues surveyed 215 newly diagnosed teen and young adult cancer patients. Those in their 20s were much less likely than teens or patients in their 30s to use mental-health services and were more likely to report an unmet need for information about cancer, infertility and diet.
Young adults who were treated in adult, rather than pediatric, cancer facilities were more likely than teens who were treated in pediatric facilities to report an unmet need for age-appropriate websites, mental-health services, camp and retreat programs, transportation assistance and complementary and alternative health services.
The study was published online recently in the journal Cancer.
The lack of research involving teen and young adult cancer patients makes it difficult for health care providers to create age-appropriate services for them, Zebrack said. This study might help change that.
“Our research shows increasing patient referral to community-based social service agencies and reputable Internet resources can enhance the care and improve the quality of life for this group of patients,” Zebrack said. “The more we know about their needs, the better support health care professionals will be able to provide.”
“Conclusions-Substantial proportions of AYAs are not utilizing psychosocial support services. Findings suggest the importance of identifying psychologically distressed AYAs and addressing their needs for mental health counseling throughout a continuum of care.