Thursday, February 2, 2012
February 4th is World Cancer Day
So I wrote the following as a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times:
February 4th is World Cancer Day. As a person diagnosed with leukemia, ten days after my 30th birthday, I feel the desire to use this occasion to raise awareness. The young adult cancer population, ages 15-39, is surprisingly large. According to the Abramson Cancer Center, each year approximately 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer. The truly interesting fact about this group though, is that its mortality rates have not improved over the last 30 years. Older cancer patients and childhood cancer patients mortality rates have improved significantly, while young adults mortality rates have remained the same. There are many thoughts on why this disparity exists. Often times young adults believe themselves to be immune to such heavy diagnosis, and therefore don't recognize early warning signs. Some young adults do not have solid job positions that offer health insurance, so they don't go to the doctor. Also, according to the Abramson Cancer Center, young adults dealing with cancer are less likely to join clinical trials. Therefore, information on how best to discover and treat these heavy diagnosis within the young adult population is studied less.
If you know of anyone within the young adult cancer demographic who needs assistance, there are a few groups who work specifically with this population. I would encourage you to refer them to the "I'm Too Young For This Foundation" (http://stupidcancer.com/). Every year they have a weekend summit in different parts of the country where young adults with cancer meet eachother and attend seminars specifically designed towards their specific population. This year the summit will be in Las Vegas, NV from March 30-April 1st. For more information please go to http://omgsummit.org/2012/
The more our community becomes aware of young adults with cancer, the more we can do to help.