Unique Challenges for Young Adults Facing Cancer
Imagine feeling lost, afraid, and alone during one of the most important and stressful points in your life because of cancer. Each year in the US, more than 80,000 young adults (ages 18-39) are diagnosed with cancer, and the future they had once planned for is dramatically altered.
This group experiences a variety of different challenges compared to other age groups. At a time when their peers are advancing their education, careers, and families, young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers face time away from school and work to facilitate treatment and recovery. Receiving a cancer diagnosis at such a young age can be immensely distressing, and young adults facing cancer are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. They often feel an intense sense of loss of their once-busy lifestyles, experience social isolation from their peers, face challenges to education and career advancements, have concerns about relationships and fertility, and are overwhelmed by the daunting financial burdens they now face. Currently, few comprehensive resources are available to help young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers meet their unique psychological, social, and emotional needs. Cactus Cancer Society has the incredible privilege of coming into their lives at the most difficult time and providing them with connection and support through our programs.
How We Help
At Cactus Cancer Society, we provide those in their 20s and 30s dealing with cancer with the support and tools they need to adapt their once-busy young adult lifestyle to fit the complex challenges that arrive after a diagnosis, and into survivorship. By bringing together wellness and psychosocial support programs and resources that are specifically geared towards this young adult population, Cactus Cancer Society improves wellbeing and quality of life. Our programs are all online and designed to fit the needs of young adults facing cancer, no matter where or who you are.
Our 2022-2023 Impact
We recently looked at the anonymous pre- and post-survey results from our Art Workshops, journaling and creative writing workshops, Oodles of Thoughts workshops, and 8-week Survivorship Series. We found that participants experienced a statistically significant reduction in anxiety, depression, and psychological distress after joining our programs. In addition, the young adults participating in our programs had overwhelmingly positive experiences. The majority felt less isolated and more connected to others, were able to express their feelings through creative outlets, and felt better overall after participating in our programs.
When you’re feeling isolated and alone, head on over to our Young Adult Voices blog where you can find stories and interviews from young adults, just like you, who are dealing with cancer. When you’re feeling like expressing yourself through writing or art, head on over to our Programs page to check out our opportunities for creative writing, journaling, art, and so much more!
Who We Serve
During our 2022-2023 fiscal year, we had 2,913 program participants from 46 states and 8 countries. Cactus Cancer Society intentionally designs programs to bring together young adult cancer survivors of all racial, ethnic, and gender identities. Our unique, interactive, all-online programs open up access to much-needed cancer survivorship support for absolutely any young adult cancer patient, survivor, or caregiver with an internet connection, regardless of a patient’s specific diagnosis, geographic location, financial situation, or inpatient status. Because of this, the racial demographics of our participants mirror that of the US population. In addition, 24% of our program participants self-identify as LGBTQ+ and 20% live in rural communities.
Want to learn more about our impact? Click here to see our most recent annual report.