Resources for Young Adults with Cancer
Cancer sucks. And a cancer diagnosis when you’re young brings with it its own unique set of challenges. Weathering rounds of treatment can mean taking time away from the regular rhythms of early adulthood: school, graduations, first jobs, first apartments. It feels like missing out.
Because most resources developed for cancer patients are made with older adults in mind, younger patients don’t have much to lean on. But there are a handful of organizations working to make a cancer diagnosis more empowering—by building community, supporting mental health, and offering programs that align with young people’s priorities and values.
You shouldn’t need a PhD to understand the cancer you’re living with. Which is the raison d’être of the cancer media platform SurvivorNet: It makes researching what comes next for you—wherever you are in diagnosis, treatment, or recovery—feel less like science homework. The site publishes interviews with top cancer experts, powerful stories from survivors, and the latest in cancer research news and maintains an up-to-date clinical trial finder. And it has its own streaming service, SurvivorNetTV, where you can watch films and documentaries related to your cancer journey.
Since 2012, Stupid Cancer has been sorting out answers to the major questions that come up after a cancer diagnosis—on things like finances and health insurance, yes, but also sexual health, dating, career, exercise, and fertility preservation. And Stupid Cancer works to eliminate the social isolation that too many cancer patients come to know. You can join online discussion groups, make a new friend at one of its regular meetups, and gather once a year for CancerCon, a weekend-long event with breakout groups on loving your body, navigating intimacy, and advocating for yourself at the doctor’s office.
The renowned Simms/Mann – UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology was founded on the belief that good treatment doesn’t start and end with medical care. Instead, the center balances traditional treatment with holistic modalities. Try talk therapy, interfaith spiritual care, mindfulness groups, and Qigong. Take a class on what to expect before going into surgery. Dip into the on-site boutique, Reflections, to shop for head coverings and talk over body image changes. Or meet with an integrative oncology specialist to discuss nutrition and dietary supplements to support recovery. It’s a thoughtful, effective, patient-centered approach to cancer treatment, and most of the programs are free of charge.
For over a decade, the nonprofit First Descents has been leading outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer. Throughout each program—surfing, kayaking, rafting, climbing, hiking, or yoga—participants get into nature and connect with other young people facing cancer diagnoses. Adventures don’t require any prior experience, and they’re offered at no cost. And they’re not just for fun. First Descents has a clear treatment benefit: Research shows that outdoor recreational programs for young patients with cancer lower distress symptoms, enhance feelings of independence and emotional well-being, and improve patients’ sense of social support.
Two-time cancer survivor Melissa Telzer founded InKind Space to help people reframe a cancer journey into a source of empowerment and purpose. The site has a free collection of lifestyle resources, guides, and tips, and it hosts panel discussions led by physicians, scientists, and other experts. Coming soon: expert consultations and check-ins for community members.
This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.