Courtesy of Roswell Park Cancer Talk Blog
“Congratulations, Class of 2023!” “You’re hired!” “You may now kiss the bride!” “It’s a boy!” These are some things you expect to hear as a young adult during the years when you’re focusing on your education, career, family, and contemplating your future. Instead, hearing, “You have cancer,” brings your plans to a screeching halt. Suddenly, your priorities must shift from all of those hopeful plans to dealing with chemo, fatigue, and the emotions of cancer. Where do you even start? That’s where the Young Adult Program (YA) at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (www.roswellpark.org/young-adult-cancer) steps in with support, mental health counseling, fertility preservation, integrative services, and more.
Support. Roswell Park professionals who lead the YA program understand that young adult cancer patients rarely know anyone else in their age group who has received a cancer diagnosis and can share their experience. Young adults in the program at all stages in their cancer journey can connect and learn from one another. YA offers nationally ranked cancer care and support services and events that are designed to help young adults and their families. See https://tinyurl.com/yckf7v72.
Mental health counseling. A dedicated psychologist (https://www.roswellpark.org/young-adult-cancer/mental-health-support) provides specialized care and understanding regarding the unique challenges faced by young adults with cancer. Other Roswell Park providers from the Social Work (https://www.roswellpark.org/cancer-care/support/social-work) and Child Life (https://www.roswellpark.org/cancer/pediatric/child-life-program) teams assist with lodging, transportation, disability assistance, talking to young children, and more.
Fertility preservation. It is important to learn about how treatment may impact your fertility. The program’s medical Director, Denise Rokitka MD MPH (www.roswellpark.org/denise-rokitka), is an oncofertility expert, and able to counsel patients on their various options, including serving as a liaison between Buffalo IVF and the patient’s primary oncology team.
Integrative services. The YA team understands the importance of life beyond cancer, and challenges associated with managing appointments, side effects, responsibilities, and relationships during treatment. YA’s program coordinator guides patients through the ups and downs, helping with a multitude of tasks, including completing paperwork, cosmetics, and communicating with friends and family regarding how they can be of most help. Coordinators are there from day one, and remain a member of your team into survivorship. They connect you with services for day-to-day necessities like house cleaning, to finding skincare products for your newly sensitive skin. Coordinators also link patients with other Roswell Park services, such as Nutrition, Financial Assistance, Physical Therapy, Legal Care, the 11 Day Power Play Cancer Resource Center and the Elevate Salon.
All YA Quality-of-Life Programs are funded by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, and are made possible through its generous donors. If you or someone you love is a young adult impacted by cancer, reach out to a community that understands your unique needs and challenges, and who will be at your side until you can ring Roswell Park’s victory bell. Contact YA Coordinator Ashley King at 716-845-1664 or Ashley.King@RoswellPark.org to learn more.