Tuesday, April 3, 2012
OMG! 2012 Stupid Cancer Young Adult Cancer Summit
I just returned from the OMG! 2012 Young Adult Cancer Summit put together by a group called Stupid Cancer (http://stupidcancer.com/). What an amazing experience! There were 550 registered young adults in all stages of cancer, as well as their caregivers there to listen to and discuss their daily reality.
Did you know 72,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year? That number is staggering! Especially because it is seven times higher than all pediatric cancer diagnoses combined!
This summit was a way for young adults in all stages of cancer, as well as their care givers, to come together and learn about many topics as well as connect with eachother. Some of the topics discussed were self image, navigating careers, spirituality, self expression in a digital world, and the environment. The main message hit home for me was when the doctor says "you're cured, go home" that's not the end of the story. There are so many issues that don't go away just because someone might be in remission. I think many people forget this. The emotional scars last and so do the issues surrounding health insurance and self image (to name a couple).
One of my favorite connections of the weekend was with Johnny Imerman. Johnny is a young adult cancer survivor who started a group called Imerman Angels that matches people who are going through an illness with someone who has already gone through that very illness. Something they also do (which I found brilliant) is match family members and friends of people who are going through an illness to other family members and friends who have been through the journey. (http://www.imermanangels.org/)
I can't tell you how many people have come to me asking questions about all types of cancer and what they can do to help their family members going through treatment. I can give some basic suggestions, but when someone signs up with Imerman Angels they will be able to talk to a person with more specific suggestions. That's invaluable!
I honestly can not say enough about this conference. It is a fantastic and needed forum for young adults with cancer and their caregivers.
What about other illnesses? Other illnesses need support to.
I whole heartedly agree!
Check out http://www.nextstepnet.org/our-programs
This group works with young people with other life threatening illnesses such as HIV, and sickle cell disease.
Feel free to contact me if you need help researching support networks :)