Q&A with RPCI’s AYA Team

Friday, June 28, 2013 - 3:35pm

Every day, Kristen Fix and Brandee Aquilino, members of the AYA and Pediatric Psychosocial Team at Roswell Park, offer guidance and support to adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer as they navigate the road to recovery.

Equipped with a sympathetic ear, they tackle some tough questions about life with cancer.

Q. Why Did This Happen to Me?
A. It’s natural to wonder why bad things happen, especially if you lead a healthy lifestyle. But pondering the how and why of your diagnosis will only take away from your mission — to beat cancer. Focus your energy on getting well and utilizing the tools to help you fight. A strong support system will help you cope with the stress and trauma of your disease.

National Cancer Institute: Coping Resources
If you’re feeling alone in your experience with cancer — or you know someone who is — this database of resources can be useful.

Q. Will My Friends Support Me?
A. By choosing to invite cancer into your social life, you are always taking a risk — a risk that your friends might not react well. They might shy away or freeze up, unsure of what to do or how to help. While most people will respond with understanding and kindness, you may experience some uncertainty. So reassure friends that it’s okay to ask questions and visit you during treatment. It will help them understand what you are going through. It’s also helpful to make new friends that can relate to your new experiences. Fellow patients or cancer survivors can sometimes offer a level of support unlike anyone else.

Imerman Angels: A mentor matching service for those touched by cancer.
Often, having someone outside your usual circle of friends and family can be very helpful. This service matches you with someone who has fought and survived the same type of cancer.

Q. Will I Look Different?
Cancer treatment may change your physical appearance, but it’s often a temporary change. Hair loss is the biggest concern for most of our patients and it’s a personal choice on how you handle it. Sometimes wigs work well and other times a fashionable scarf is the answer. Either way, remember that the physical changes will come and go, but it doesn’t have to change who you are inside.

Teens Living With Cancer: Body Issues 
Learn how other patients deal with cancer treatment and body image. 

Q. Will I Survive?
We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know that you’ll receive extraordinary treatment to help you beat your disease. You’ll have access to unconditional support and a team of dedicated experts throughout your journey at Roswell Park. A cancer diagnosis always brings questions of mortality, so it’s important to keep a strong, positive outlook and take one day at a time.

American Cancer Society: Survivorship
Tips on staying active and healthy during and after cancer treatment, as well as inspirational stories about other people whose lives have been touched by cancer.