You may have missed the news, but there’s been a little virus going around. It has caused cancellations of weddings, concerts, award shows, movie releases and sporting events. But we havent cancelled AYA awareness week?! What gives?
Because AYA cancer didn’t get the memo. It never does. It drops right in the middle of a young adult’s life, then barges right on through birthdays, holidays, proms, anniversaries, and graduations. It doesn’t care that you were supposed to go with your best friend on a road trip next month. That you were supposed to move across the country and start graduate classes at your dream school. That you were hoping to start thinking about starting a family.
Cancer can be like a personal COVID crisis- disrupting all your plans and events, making you isolated and scared.
If cancer can’t wait, we can’t either. We need to keep our foot on the pedal. We can’t afford to skip a year to make more and more people are aware of the reality of having cancer as a young adult. The AYA population gets overlooked too often. Although only 1/8 as many pediatric cancers occur each year as cases betweeen the ages of 15-40, pediatric cancer has its own branch of the National Cancer Institute, its own clinical trials cooperative group, its own fellowship training, and its own hospital units. Individual cancers in adults get more attention- whole months of awareness! Young adults have unique needs and issues- all medical providers and the public need to be more aware.
So we may have trouble making the headlines this year, but know that here at FWAYA, we’ll keep shouting and nudging and fighting each and every year until AYAs with cancer have all the care and support they need.
Karen Albrittoin, MD
Medical Director, Fort Worth AYA Oncology Coalition & Medical Director of AYA unit at Baylor All Saints