The Need for Better Support for Young Adult Survivors

A new study published in “Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer”, finds that there is a need to improve support services for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. The findings were released on Carried out at the School of Social Work, University of Southern California (, and headed by researcher Brad Zebrack, the study examined the supportive care needs and preferences of young adult cancer survivors, aged 18-39 at the time of the study. These survivors completed an online survey, answering questions about information and supportive care services. More than 60% expressed a desire for age-appropriate cancer information, information about diet, exercise, nutrition, infertility information, mental health counseling, and camp or retreat programs for young adults. However, more than 50% indicated that their needs for information and services had been unmet. Unmet needs were more likely in younger respondents or of poor physical health and less advanced in work or school.

This study clearly shows the need for increased and enhanced services for young adult survivors throughout care, from diagnosis to after-treatment survivorship. I believe most cancer care facilities can do a much better job of supporting this group of people.

This is, in fact, partly why I started and Stay Fit Stay Strong. The support group nearest to me was largely filled with women in their 60s and 70s. While I enjoyed meeting many of these women, I found that many of my concerns were really not so relevant to their lives. Of course, primarily we all wanted to survive, but I was also dealing with fertility issues and blistering menopausal symptoms. I remember talking to a woman in her late 70s who was a 10-year survivor. While it was heartening to think that she had survived so long, if I lasted that long it would put me only into my mid-40s (a thought I found rather daunting). But mostly, I was a very active woman and wanted to remain so. I found that most of the exercise programs available at the time were clearly geared for older adults, people who were already less mobile and deconditioned. So, I found my own way, and in the process became interested in helping other survivors get and stay fit.

Around the country, there are now more support groups for younger adults and cancer exercise programs are also increasing. This is a very good thing. But still, many cancer care centers can do more for their younger and more active populations. If the programs available in your area don’t really address your issues, push them. Keep after them to provide you what you need.


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