I had been married five months when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Both my wife and I had just finished university and were dirt poor living in a trailer to save money and were very active in our community, having a lot of friends and volunteer responsibilities. When I was diagnosed I went through a very awkward phase where I had to tell all our friends and acquaintances, quit my job and move back in with my parents. However, my wife and I felt very lucky that we did not have permanent responsibilities like children or a mortgage that we could not step back from. Many adults in their 20s and 30s do not have that freedom.
In general, young adults live hectic lives and the most difficult consequence of a cancer diagnosis is juggling the many responsibilities that they have. Things like work, children, friends, bills, school, errands, become monumental tasks when cancer is thrown into the mix. Many young adult survivors begin a crazy balancing act when they are diagnosed and finding time and resources to connect with their survivor peers face to face for support becomes very difficult.
Up until this point Young Adult Cancer Canada’s face-to-face support programs, the Survivor Conference and Retreat Yourself, have been offered only a couple times a year and often include a lot of travel, time, and personal expense. We recognize the need for decreasing these barriers to participation and increasing the frequency of our face-to-face support programs so that we can connect with more young adults.
We will accomplish both of these goals with a new program called Localife, an activity-based support group where local survivors will get together on a regular basis to have fun, build community, and support each other. It is a minimal barrier way for survivors with limited time and resources to connect face-to-face and get the support they need. It will be organized by local Survivors In Action with the help of Young Adult Cancer Canada staff and activites could include things like BBQs, games, movies, curling night (Bonspeil!), skating, raft-bogganing, bowling, and more. The goal of Localife it to develop strong local communities which are an active part of the larger national community of young adult survivors.
The program will be piloted in Calgary this Fall with more locations opening up in 2011. If you are a Calgary local, checkout the event calendar or email [email protected] for more details. I’m super stoked to setup this program. If you are in Calgary, I hope to see you soon!
I remember all to well how isolated and powerless my wife and I felt in my cancer journey because we didn’t know how to connect with people who understood what we were going through. That is why I am so stoked to be starting Localife here in Calgary, so that other young adults like me will easily be able to get connected to the Young Adult Cancer Canada family and get the support they need while having a whole lot of fun.