Fighting Cancer with Fun

Nontraditional Support for Young Adult Cancer Patients
Friday, February 28, 2014 - 12:39pm

The words cancer and fun seldom share space in a sentence. But cancer support groups – especially for young adult patients – are increasingly geared towards fun and entertainment in activity-based settings.

Traditionally, cancer support groups were weekly or monthly sessions facilitated by a psychosocial professional as an outlet for people to share their story. But today, activities like organized happy hours or kayaking trips are the norm for young adults seeking support. In addition, online communication tools and social networks grant access to survivors world-wide.

There is no denying the documented benefits of peer interaction for cancer patients. But it seems logical to garner support in places where young adults naturally gather, instead of a clinical setting.

Here are few examples of unconventional ways to connect with your peers and find cancer support in fun, informal places.

Adventure Retreat: First Descents is a nonprofit organization that offers young adult cancer fighters a free outdoor experience. Each program is limited to 15 participants, ensuring individualized care, medical attention and an intimate experience with fellow survivors. Programs are available to young adults with cancer regardless of their financial means. All meals, accommodations and program activities are provided free of charge.

Night On the Town: Stupid Cancer is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering those affected by young adult cancers. They have a motto – "Get busy living!" This group organizes happy hours, bowling parties, movie nights and other events where young adult survivors can connect. They also hold an annual OMG Cancer Summit for Young Adults in NYC and Las Vegas - the largest conference of its kind. The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program at Roswell Park hosts monthly, themed social outings at various locations throughout Buffalo. They also hold a monthly Young Adult Workshop to socialize, listen and learn from other young cancer survivors. 

Virtual Support: As communication becomes increasingly fueled by social media, it’s inevitable that a majority of peer support would take place online. Following Roswell Park's AYA Facebook and Twitter feed can connect you with fellow survivors and keeps you informed about cancer research and community events. Imerman Angels, a mentor matching service, uses Skype to link you with someone who has fought and survived the same type of cancer. There are also various blogs dedicated to young adults with cancer to offer inspirational stories, tips and advice. Regardless of the online platform you choose, there is an endless amount of knowledge and support at your disposal.