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For Any Cancer Diagnosis

Q. When I am no longer covered under my parents' policy, will I be able to get my own health insurance with a past history of cancer?

A.

For young adults, many of whom do not have full-time jobs, getting adequate health insurance coverage is a concern. While each state has different guidelines for coverage, young adults can generally be covered under a parent’s insurance until the age of 25, and most universities and graduate schools offer student health benefits.

If you do not have health insurance, seek out a medical social worker with knowledge of the health insurance plans in your state who can help you understand the specifics of these plans and how to apply. I recommend a few resources:

The cost of cancer treatment and follow up care can be overwhelming at times. Seek out financial assistance programs for which you still may be eligible. Thoroughly review the type and cost of health insurance offered by any prospective employer. And speak with a medical or oncology social worker who can offer practical assistance to help you find adequate health coverage – the first step in your survivorship planning.

Q. My 24-year-old son was recently diagnosed with cancer and I think it would be a good idea for him to join a support group. How do I convince him?

A.

Often times, when young adults are first diagnosed with cancer, they are busy with doctor’s appointments, trying to understand their treatment, and figuring out how all the new demands will fit into their active lives. A support group may not be something people think of initially, but rather an option they come back to when they are better adjusted to their new routine.

Being supportive to your son as he begins treatment may include helping him find the right support group, along with other resources. You can do research for him, provide him with specific group information, and encourage him to talk to the group leader directly about any questions and concerns.

If he is unable to make it to face-to-face support group, he might consider a CancerCare online support group. These groups are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and led by a professional oncology social worker.

As his mom and caregiver, it’s also important to seek support for yourself. We offer support services for caregivers, including an online support group. If your needs are met, you will undoubtedly be a better support to your son.

Q. I am 28 years old and it seems like I'm the only one my age with cancer. Is there anyone else like me out there?

A.

Having cancer in your 20s or 30s can make you feel lonely. Most of the people you probably see in treatment or sitting next to you at the doctor’s office are much older. But you are NOT alone!

Connecting with others your age who are also facing cancer – people who “get it” – can be very helpful as you cope with the many feelings that may come up. Other young adults can also share information on practical concerns such as managing side effects and navigating the health care system.

These organizations specialize in providing support and services to young adults with cancer:

Q. Are there programs that can help me feel better about myself? I'm 29, recently finished chemo and radiation and am feeling blah. Anything I can join?

A.

Having cancer in your 20s or 30s can be an overwhelming experience, particularly once treatment is over. Adjusting to the “new normal” can be especially difficult. Connecting with others your age who have also faced cancer and can relate to those days of just feeling “blah,” can be very helpful in normalizing your experience.

There are several organizations that offer support services to help meet the needs of people coping with cancer in their 20s and 30s. These organizations can help you feel connected and secure in the idea that you are NOT alone!

The following organizations offer retreats and other camp experiences for young adults with cancer and post treatment survivors:

As a post-treatment survivor, you’ll find helpful information in our booklet, After Treatment Ends: Tools for the Adult Cancer Survivor. All of our post-treatment information and support services can be found on our website. You may also call CancerCare and speak with an oncology social worker who can provide you with support and search for additional resources.

For Breast Cancer

Q. I'm 32, and am in treatment for early stage breast cancer. I feel like I'm burdening my friends and husband with my anxiety, but I also need to talk. I'm looking for a therapist, but maybe there are other things I can do to help myself? My husband is supportive, but not very emotional.

A.

Coping with cancer as a young adult is a unique experience. Building a strong support system and having someone to talk to can help address and cope with the emotional stressors you must be feeling. Support can come in many different forms. Many of these services are now easily accessible over the phone and online. CancerCare provides free individual and support group counseling with licensed oncology social workers and can also help connect you to resources within your community. Our supportive services are sensitive to the way a diagnosis of cancer is different when you are young.

These organizations specialize in providing support services to young adults with cancer:

You may also contact the American Psychosocial Oncology Society Helpline toll-free at 866-276-7443. Their referral program aims to connect cancer patients and their caregivers to local psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers and counselors skilled in the management of cancer-related distress.

In addition to seeking professional support there are many things one can do on their own or at home to help themselves cope. Here are some publications with practical tips that you may find helpful: