Necessity of Support for Young Adult Survivors

Vik Bubber & Daralynn Walker

Vancouver, Canada

Reprint of a power-point presentation held at  the Vancouver conference September 2005

 

Issues for life, love and happiness get more complicated for a young adult who has survived cancer. Once a childhood cancer patient becomes an adult they fall into a dark gap with very little support. Just as children, young adults should be given the opportunity to explore potentials and search for their identity.

Support is a fundamental part of the healing process which allows for mental and emotional wounds to heal.

As we leave high school and pursue further education at college or university, we try and think about goals and our future:

        Which career?

        Relationships?

        Independence?

 

There are numerous ways of support:    

    Camp/Retreat (Peer Support)

        • Meeting is more concentrated

        • Not as frequent

    Support Group (Peer Support)

        • Meeting is topic centralized

        • More frequent

    Doctors

        • Not always supportive

        • Shouldn’t be hindering about prognosis

    Family & Friends

        • Not always understanding

        • Ultimately support you or leave you

    God & Faith

        • Belief in God strengthened

        • Lose faith in God

 

Most Effective Method: Peer Support

One survivor to another can discuss on a much deeper level than from just talking with family or friends.

Young adults should have the ability to share about personal topics or emotional frustrations without worrying about persecution.

Recreational camps provide facilities and means by which survivors can safely provide support to each other in a nurturing environment.

Pros & Cons of camp/retreat: 

Pros:

    The camp atmosphere allows for challenges to be conquered and new important friendships to be made.

    Life changing experience and memories which last a lifetime.

    Helps survivors escape from the stress and tension of day to day life.

Cons:

    Campers have to deal with possible emotional repercussions after coming home. 

    Communication between friends can fade as distance separates campers

 

Resources needed for a camp:

1.  Location:

    Should be in a remote but serene place

    Accommodating to needs of campers.

2. Funding:

    Food, lodging and transportation.
    Budget for activities and supplies.

3. Facilitators:

    Should be aware and understanding of campers needs
    Should be outgoing yet emotionally stable.

4. Participants:

    Should be medically sound enough to attend
    Any survivor or patient should be welcome to attend.

 

The following campers' quotes summarize the importance of these camps: 

    “Camp made me a stronger individual.”

    “At home, I tend to put on a fake mask to make it easier for others, but at camp I don’t wear a mask.”

    “ I made lifelong friends in a relaxed and accepting environment.”

    “Everybody I’ve met at camp is so open and understanding.”

    “Other survivors don’t make me feel so alone.”

    “There was no pressure to do anything I didn’t feel comfortable doing.”

    “Camp was definitely a positive experience and I would recommend it to others.”

 

Conclusion 

Individuality can be defined through any event we encounter between the ages of 13 - 25. Anything which affects us emotionally or psychologically during this time can help us gain more control over our life. The impact we can have on one person can help change their lives forever. Medicine and treatment may help remove cancer but only continued support from others will help a cancer survivor to survive.

Vik Bubber & Daralynn Walker

Contact: Vikram Bubber (V25t@telus.net)