I remember the night like yesterday, alone in my room on 4 North A in the Health Sciences Centre here in St. John’s. It was a pretty normal night for me, awake for much of it, banging away on my computer which offered the only light in my room. The difference was I wasn’t writing or responding to email that night, I was writing down an idea about my emails and what I might do with them.
I was interrupted by a nurse who came in to check on me, and like Messier calling his shot before winning the Cup in ’94 (albeit in much less dramatic fashion), I told my nurse to remember her interruption as it had come in the middle of one of my coolest ideas ever. At that moment my fingers were banging out a very rough sketch of what would become RealTime Cancer just over one year later.
My initial vision was to share my story as a young adult dealing with cancer. I always viewed my experiences with cancer as a challenge, and that is what I planned to talk about, challenge.
Away I went.
And now here we are almost eight years later. Over 100 school presentations, over 65,000 students reached, three national retreats, two survivor conferences, and a growing community of young adults with cancer connected through our events and our website. Despite focusing most of our time on program development and delivery, support from our amazing community has raised over $1.2 million to fund our education and support programs for young adults.
Enough with the reflection. You know what they say about navel gazing and following your nose–you’ll end up with your head in your ass.
The biggest thing is the learning. It’s all about survival and support.
We’ve have many great accomplishments under our belt, but I know they will be surpassed by the work we have yet to complete.
With survival rates for young adults with cancer at the same level as in the 1970s, with only nine young adult cancer support groups in the whole country, and with less than 0.1 per cent of new research funding focused our way, we feel now is the time for change.
We started as one survivor going to schools to talk about cancer. Today we are a strong, united, national organization of young adult cancer patients and survivors committed to make things better for our brothers and sisters of today and tomorrow.
This new expanded vision has its roots firmly planted where they have always been but we felt our brand needed some “reconstructive surgery,” so to speak to have it better reflect who we are and who we serve. We are now Young Adult Cancer Canada.
You have been part of our growth as RealTime Cancer at varying levels and we wanted you to know first. This is an exciting step for us as we assert our position on this issue and intention to challenge the status quo when it comes to young adults and cancer.
Glad you are with us.
Live life. Love life.