Thursday, February 16, 2012

Young Survivors' Resources

Young Adult Cancer Survivors have a few different sets of challenges than their older counterparts.  We discussed  fertility issues and cancer on the last post (I should say that I discussed, you were forced to read my one sided discussion!!).

Some of the other issues that affect  YA's (as they are sometimes referred to): 

  •  Education:  some young survivors have had to leave college or give up their dream of college when they were diagnosed with cancer.  With medical bills piling up many are forced to abort this dream, or put it on hold indefinitely.
  • Dating:  it's hard enough to show your mastectomy scar to your husband of 35 years, but imagine that you are out there in the dating world with some of the physical scars of your cancer.  Plus sometimes it is hard to envision your own future, let alone meeting someone new and involving them in it.  Btw...I once got laughed out of a survivorship meeting when I suggested an online dating service for cancer survivors.  Well looky here....  For this resource, I haven't had any patient of mine try it yet, so I can't vouch for it.  Just passing it along!  Here's another one that I saw in CURE magazine, but it looks like it is temporarily down  I will check back and will remove it if it is no longer a good site.

Also here is a dating site for those survivors who can't have sex because it is painful (some gynecological cancers), maybe some testicular cancer survivors.  Started by a woman who had stage IV cervical cancer.

  • Finances:  usually if you are young,  you are working for peanuts in entry level jobs.  Most likely you are renting, haven't saved much of anything and have college loans or credit card debt on top of your medical bills. 
  • Lack of any health insurance at all. 
  • Loss of friendships/loss of your social network.  This happens to older cancer survivors too, but with young survivors, the support systems may not have been built up enough to help them through. Also, all their young and happening friends may not be able to handle something like a cancer diagnosis in a friend who is so young.


The SAMFund is a great organization that gives tangible financial assistance (aka money) in the form of grants (YA's can apply for grants every June).  The great thing is that you can request assistance with rent, bills, tuition costs, fertility costs etc.  There is also a social aspect to meet other young survivors at some of their events.  This is one of the few assistance programs that give REAL financial assistance to young survivors who apply. 

To be eligible for assistance you need to be: 

  • between the ages of 17 and 35
  • a U.S. citizen
  • finished with your cancer treatment

So, it is not financial help during your treatment.  This fund is designed to provide assistance when you are getting on with your life after treatment.
Finally a resource that delivers what it says it will some REAL help with funds for young survivors.  ROCK ON SAM FUND!! 

Samantha Eisenstein Watson is the director and co-founder of  The SAMFund.  I have spoken to her on the phone and emailed her a few times and she is absolutely delightful.  She is a two time cancer survivor that truly found her calling after her experiences with cancer.  Talk about inspirational and making a difference in this world.  Thank you Sam for all that you do for other young adult survivors!!!

If you want to donate to a great organization, here you go:  The SAMFund


If you are a young survivor looking for scholarships to go back to school?  There are a LOT of scholarships for young cancer survivors or for children of cancer patients.  My advice?  Start surfing the net.  There are all kinds of scholarships that might be peculiar to the state where you live, what kind of cancer you have etc.  You have to hunt around a bit. These two came from below.

A great website for all things Young Survivor related is  It is the website for the "I'm Too Young for This Foundation" and they have a lot going on over there.

They have a radio show, webinars, blogs, posts, social networking and a ton of great links for young survivors.  I heard founder Matthew Zachary speak last year at the Stowe Weekend of Hope.  He was such a humorous and dynamic speaker that I blew off the workshop I had signed up for and stalked him at the young survivor workshop he was speaking at later that night.  

If SAMFund is about actual financial support, is mostly about emotional support....networking, finding other young survivors who know how you feel, and links to great resources.  SO valuable!!  Pretty much all encompassing if you are a young survivor.

They sponsor a yearly event which sounds like a big convention for young survivors.  They have speakers, workshops all geared to them.  I am attending this year (not young and not a cancer survivor) as they let health professionals come too.  I am really stoked to check this out.  

Rates are reasonable for it and what better place to hold this event, but in VEGAS!!!

Another annual event in the Boston area is happening in March too.  The ninth annual Young Adult Cancer Conference in Boston, MA is being held on Saturday, March 24th from 8:30am to 3pm.  It's a day packed with workshops, networking and information.

Hope some of these help!!  Please pass on to any young survivors you know!!


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