When cancer hits early

While this article deals with US statistics, the issues are the same for young Canadians dealing with cancer

Sept. 02—Amy Babst woke up in the middle of a summer night, and for 15 minutes, she was barely able to breathe. She called 911 and was rushed to the hospital, where a chest X-ray determined that she had a “ginormous” tumor squeezed between her lungs, she says. A biopsy later determined that the mass was malignant.

Four days later, on June 16, 2008, Babst gave birth to her first child. When the newborn, Kira, was just three weeks old, her mother started chemotherapy.

“It was awful,” says Babst, 25, of Linthicum, who now is in remission.

“I slept through most of the first year of my baby’s life. I had to stop breast-feeding her when I began chemotherapy. The opportunity to bond with my child was taken away from me. I worried that I wouldn’t live to see her grow up.”

While Babst’s medical needs were taken care of by the doctors and nurses at the University of Maryland Medical Center, she found few resources available to help her cope with the issues she faced as a young mother battling cancer. Because the vast majority of cancer patients are retirement age or older, most support services are focused on the challenges faced by an aging population.

But a recent development is helping to place a new focus on the problems experienced by young adults with cancer.

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