New Group for Young Adults with Metastatic & Advanced Cancers

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By: Seline Tam BMSc(c), Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Image of the group of people who were at the last meetup

Living with cancer as a young adult (ages 15 to 39) can be difficult. There is a lack of awareness of the type of support needed to address the concerns of this age group and a greater focus is placed on children and older adults/seniors with cancer. It is even more challenging living with metastatic, advanced, or chronic cancers, as you not only have to cope with your diagnosis but have the added pressure of preparing yourself for what is to come. This experience is often isolating for individuals with incurable cancer as existing cancer support programs primarily focus on moving forward from cancer – which is usually not an option for individuals with advanced cancer.

Fortunately, support groups for people with advanced cancers exist. However, there is a need to create support programs specifically for younger adults with incurable cancer. This is because they have unique concerns that are different from older adults with cancer. Some examples of these concerns may include communicating with their young children about their illness and making very difficult advance care planning discussions at such a young age.

Anna Craig, a young mother and wife living with metastatic breast cancer, always wanted to create a safe space for young adults with incurable cancers. She had found that her experience in young adult and metastatic support groups was challenging because she wasn’t able to share her thoughts and concerns with people who understood because they didn’t necessarily have advanced cancers or weren’t in the same age category. She reached out to the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program at Princess Margaret, and together they created a new group for young adults with metastatic and advanced cancers.

The group meets every 4th Thursday of the month from 6 to 8 PM at ELLICSR: Health, Wellness, and Cancer Survivorship Centre, located in the basement of Toronto General Hospital. It is a drop-in group where individuals have the opportunity to meet to share their story, concerns, and insights with each other. Children are welcome as Nanny Angel Network will be providing trained nannies to attend the meet-ups. The first group met on Thursday, June 25, where 14 people attended, including both patients and supporters.

If you know anyone who may benefit from attending this group, tell them about it and share this article!

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