Wondering how to go back to school?

Wondering how to go back to school?

As we know, many young adults have to take a break from school during the treatment phase. Some will manage to do both, but for others, it’s just not possible. When the treatments are over, getting back on track or “reintrajectorizing” (as YACC likes to say) into life can be very challenging on an emotional, physical, and environmental level.

Post cancer, young adults will have personal expectations and dreams, but they will also be subject to the expectations of others. Many questions will arise; What now? What if? Where? Why? Huh? What’s up, Doc? Etc. Physically, it can take months for the body to fully recover, and sometimes, it does not necessarily come back to the same place it was prior to the cancer experience. Not necessarily in a negative way, but just in a different way and challenges can also come from the environment. Young adults will have to face obstacles like finding a job, insurance, having financial difficulties and finding some money to go back to school.

Society has not thought all of those problems through, but for some, it’s getting there. After having many survivors and professionals asking about existing bursaries to help young adults, who had cancer, go back to school, I did some research.

While searching on the net, I bumped into Scholarships Canada, an educational site for students to find scholarships, student awards, bursaries and grants. At first, I was not really successful in finding anything that could be useful for the YACC Community, so I contacted them directly and they gave me a list of possible awards that could benefit young adults–post cancer–who want to go back to school. They explained to me that, while most of the awards identify information as cancer research, they still found five awards that may be of interest to those affected by cancer.

You can find more details on their site but, if you want full access to their services, I suggest you create an account on ScholarshipsCanada.com. It’s free and simple and that way you can get into specifics. When you create the account, they ask a bunch of questions about your interests, schools, degrees, etc. and there is a section reserved for special needs. You could include “personal challenges” in there, cancer not being one of the specific needs but another topic all together!

The awards are:

  • Cancer Survivors’ Fund of Canada Scholarship
  • Howard Lee Memorial Scholarship
  • Spiritual Warrior Scholarship, The
  • April Allen Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Marilyn Van Stone Memorial Bursary


Continuing my search, I also found the site INFUSION Canada. Their mission is to focus on “fostering innovation, leadership and growth in young Canadians supporting cancer survival.” They have a bursary to help those going back to school, but it is only for Ontarians. There seems to be different criteria (childhood cancer survivor, live in Ontario, etc.) that may not fit your profile, but they have many interesting programs and it may be worth a try. At YACC, we will try and connect with INFUSION Canada to see how we can collaborate and be connected to them.

Megan McLeod, Social Worker and Supportive Care Coordinator at the Community Cancer Programs Network in Winnipeg, facilitator at many YACC events (and a wonderful woman) had a conversation with Jamie Penner, Accessibility Advisor at the University of Manitoba. There seems to be some support to help post treatment return to studies there, but I don’t have all the details. I know of other initiatives that were started, but I could not find any concrete information on them. When I do, I’ll let you know.

As you can see, this will have to be a work in progress. I am sure there are other sources and bursaries across the country. If you know of any, please let me know at [email protected]. I would like to keep that information available on our site so more people have access to it. The awareness around the young adult reality is getting more and more present, and finding out what is out there and what is missing will only help us get closer to having appropriate and sufficient services and support.

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