Last week I sent you all a message highlighting RTC’s findings from a survey of high school students. We did that survey to further provide information about the need for education and support focused on young people (15-30 years of age) dealing with cancer. Through our extensive research we have yet to find another Canadian charitable organization that has this cancer education and support focus.
In August of this year, I had the opportunity to meet with the Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Health. In that meeting I presented our findings and also discussed a research study conducted by The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The study looked at cancer in older adolescents and young adults and found some crazy information. Crazy info that many of us young cancer patients know very well.
I’ll quote: “Cancer in adolescents and young adults has unique features in addition to the special medical, physical, psychological, and social needs of patients in the age group…More people 15-25 years of age are diagnosed to have cancer than during the first 15 years of life. During the last 25 years, the incidence of cancer in this age range has increased faster while the increase in their cancer survival rates has been significantly lower than in young or older patients…Cancer during the adolescence and early adult life is an underestimated challenge that merits specific resources, solutions and an international focus.”
In short, and I’m speaking from a combination of six years as a young cancer patient and survivor, as a patient supporter who’s mom was diagnosed 11 years ago when I was in grade 12 and as my official, and quite lofty title, I might add, of “Executive Director” of RealTime Cancer, when I say that this study highlights a situation that us young people faced with cancer deal with everyday.
We are neglected.
The medical treatment and research focus is one area of neglect but the area which is nearest and dearest to my heart is the social/emotional stuff.
I started RealTime Cancer to connect with other young people, to share my experiences and message and to hopefully open them up to cancer, or more specifically open them up to feeling about cancer. As RTC has grown and evolved so has my vision for this organization. And when you take just a few very substantial pieces of information and put them together you can see very logically where my vision originated.
1. 40 per cent of Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer, according to the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada
2. RTC research found that 70 per cent of high school students have already had cancer in their family, 85 per cent in their social circle
3. The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center study reveals that youth and young adults are neglected in all spectrums of cancer care
4. RTC can’t find any other cancer organizations in Canada that specifically focus on educating and supporting young people
When you look at those pieces of information RTC’s vision of being the #1 Canadian cancer resource for young people looking for inspiration, non-medical information, and support just makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that this void has existed for this long. But the past is the past and our focus is on today and tomorrow. We can change this situation, I know we can. In fact we have already started, but the reality is from my seat on this bus we have really only started. We have a great vision and doable plan, all we need are the human and financial resources, which are slowly starting to fall in line.
You can see by my subject that I’m looking to you all for something and here it is.
Every year for the past five, I’ve done something really special on September 20. In 1999 it was take five significant steps at home and every year since then it has been to climb Signal Hill. I’ll do that again this year on Monday, September 20.
You can help.
The Climb is about this idea that miracles happen every day, I’m living proof of that, and it’s about the never give up spirit, something that is also near and dear to me. The Climb is also about getting as many people involved as possible. We always aim to “fill the hill” and also to get people climbing wherever they are in this world. Find some stairs at work or school, go to a hill in the evening, or if you’re up for it pick a major hike and drag yourself up a mountain (the size is your call). Basically what I want is for everyone getting this message to Climb with us on September 20, support RealTime Cancer, support our vision to help neglected young people deal with this major challenge of cancer.
You can learn all about the Climb and its significance on our website. Thanks to RTC’s resident IT Wizard, and I do mean wizard, we have a very easy way for everyone to get involved either by supporting with your legs or with your wallet.
Anyone can download a pledge sheet, collect pledges, try for some of our prizes (if you are into that), and come to the Climb. That was available for a while but the coolest addition this year is the ability to set up your own personal Climb pledge page on our website and set a fundraising goal, email buddies for support, and collect pledges online. It’s not for everyone but it is for me.
I have my Climb pledge page set up and I have an ambitious goal of $5,000. I am asking for your help, and it can come in several ways.
Just make sure you climb on Monday, September 20.
I promise you’ll hear from me again soon. Have a fantastic weekend!
Live life. Love life.