Life Redefined: Seventy Thousand
Cancer awareness is kind of an interesting concept for me. We are ALL aware of cancer, right? I mean, we all know that exists, we all know the physical effects it can have on a body, and we all know that we want a cure. But I don’t think that everyone really understands that cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care about your gender, or the color of your skin, or what country you live in, or who you voted for in the last election. And it doesn’t care how old you are. Cancer does not discriminate.
This week is National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. This isn’t about cancer survivors under the age of 18 and it’s not about those diagnosed over the age of 40. This week is about raising awareness on behalf of every young adult between the ages of 18 and 39 who has received a diagnosis of cancer. This week is for the 70,000+ young adults who will receive a cancer diagnosis this year. SEVENTY THOUSAND.
There’s a reason why we need to raise awareness for this age bracket. Actually, there are multiple reasons. Cancer is the number one cause of death due to disease among young adults. Did you know that in the past thirty years, while survival rates for pediatric cancers and mature adult (is that the PC term these days?) cancers have improved, the survival rates for young adult cancers HAVE NOT CHANGED? In the past thirty years, the survival rates for young adult cancers have not improved. Why??
Young adults are too often dismissed. We are not always taken seriously in the medical community. Here’s what I mean: In March 2008, I went to the health center on the campus of the university I was attending. For several weeks I had been experiencing pain in my neck. I wanted an explanation for the pain and I wanted a solution. So, I went to the health center. On my first visit, I only saw a nurse. Her recommendation? Tylenol. That’s right, Tylenol. I knew that was a crock, so I immediately went and made an appointment with a doctor for later in afternoon. Unfortunately that appointment didn’t go much better. He suggested cold/allergy meds. I didn’t really know why, because I didn’t have a cold or allergies. No sneezing. No runny nose. No itchy eyes. Nada. I told him all of this (again) so he gave me an antibiotic. Because that was the logical next step? I don’t remember if he checked for swollen lymph nodes in my neck, but I can guarantee you that he did not check my thyroid. Fast forward six months and I’m diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer that has spread to my lymph nodes.
I am not alone here—too many young adults are not taken seriously when they approach the doctor with symptoms. Too many young adults are handed an antibiotic, or cough syrup, or some other medicine and sent packin’ with no plans to follow-up.
Young adults DO get cancer and YOU can help make a difference.
Watch this video for more astonishing young adult cancer facts and testimonials from young adult survivors. (Pay attention to the stats at the end of this video. Do you see how often “thyroid cancer” appears?!): Voices of the Young Adult Cancer Advocate Movement
Tags: cancer does not discriminate, Life Redefined: Seventy Thousand, national young adult cancer awareness week, seventy thousand young adults diagnosed with cancer each year, Thyroid Cancer in Young Adults, Written by Joanna Isbill, young adult cancer survivors, young adults not taken seriously by doctors