By PAULINE SHILKIN and YVONNE HUGHES
If I tell you that this is a story about cancer, my guess is that you’ll think it’s going to be heartbreaking or inspirational. You know what, it’s not going to be either. No unhappy endings and no heroics. It’s about the everydayness of cancer, and what comes next.
We’ve all heard that outcomes are improved if cancer’s found early, and we often hear about medical breakthroughs. It’s true – with early detection and improved treatment more and more people are surviving cancer. But what happens next?
If you haven’t experienced cancer, then you’re likely to think that the mountain climb comes next. Or the book deal. Or attempting to get 1,000,000 facebook ‘likes’ for kicking cancer’s butt. At the very least, you can expect a damn good party, right?
Wrong. It’s actually after the end of treatment that many cancer survivors find that they struggle. They’ve had a lot of support during treatment – hard to refuse a request from a bald person – but when that’s all done and dusted, there’s a lot of pressure to pick yourself back up and move on.
But life has changed.
Young adults (that’s usually under 45) who have finished treatment may find themselves facing some issues that affect them differently because of their age and diagnosis. They can struggle to adjust back to some kind of “normality”. This is further impacted by lack of understanding. There are few support services for young cancer survivors, and the support that’s in place is often not what they are looking for.
Many cancers common in young adults are treatable but with treatment comes a price tag. If chemotherapy is part of the regime, it may come at the cost of their fertility. This isn’t going to be an issue if you’ve already had your family or if you’re past your childbearing days. But for many young adults it’s come smack bang in the middle of this time, leaving a huge C shaped hole.