The excerpted article was written by NICHOLAS SOKIC | Windsor Star
Today is World Cancer Day, a day to raise awareness and encourage prevention of one of the world’s most feared disease. One aspect of cancer awareness – and support – that our country is decidedly less aware of is cancer in young adults.
That’s where Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) comes in. The non-profit organization works to connect young adults dealing with cancer into like-minded communities for solidarity and understanding, raise awareness for this underserved demographic, and host survivorship workshops and retreats across the country.
“When you’re a young adult with cancer, you’re usually the first one of your buddies to have deal with it, as I was, and you end up dealing with it in isolation from other people who can understand,” said Geoff Eaton, the founder and executive director of YACC. “That proves to be a massive part of the challenge they’re facing.”
Every day in Canada, 22 young adults are diagnosed with cancer.
Eaton was diagnosed with cancer at 22 and 25, which is when he began building what would become YACC back in 2000 out of St. John’s, Newfoundland.
A recent study published by YACC reveals the extent to which young adults, here meaning anywhere between 15 and 39, are left by the wayside when it comes to conversations on cancer. Out of 622 diagnosed young adults, 49 per cent missed between one to four years of work. Forty-three per cent over the age of 35 reported having less than $100,000 in assets, compared to just 17 per cent of their non-cancer peers.
“Many of us don’t have the benefit of stable jobs or insurance plans and what often happens is we end up in the social safety net of Canada which is not a way to build a foundation for the rest of your life,” said Eaton.
Further, those with cancer have four to six times the use of payday loans compared to those without, with similar disparities for credit card debt.
When it comes to research and support, Canada lags behind others like the UK and Australia, according to Eaton.
“They have nationally focused charitable organizations that have considerable investments from government and the results to show from that. we don’t have anything close to that in Canada,” said Eaton. “We’re investing .4 per cent of our cancer research spending on young adult cancer patients. You’ll see the same thing with treatment centres, community philanthropy, survivorship issues.”
As well 84 per cent experience significant levels of fear of cancer recurrence. Similarly high levels of young adult patients deal with body issues and depression as a result of the disease.
The perception for young adults is that they are simply ‘too young to get cancer.’ Meanwhile, many of them have to deal with “facing the end of their life just as they’re was starting it,” as Eaton says.