I was diagnosed with ocular melanoma at the age of 27 while living in a remote community above the arctic circle. My diagnosis came at Christmas when — in this part of the country — the sun hadn’t risen for 30 days. I felt incredibly isolated as I was living far from specialists, mental health resources, and my family on the east coast. All I wanted during treatment and recovery (survivorship) was to connect to others who TRULY understood and related to the worries and fears I had during all stages of my cancer experience.
Unfortunately, due to the isolation and lack of resources here in the north, I didn’t hear about YACC until I was finishing radiation treatment in Edmonton. A social worker who was helping me navigate cancer treatment out of province mentioned that I might want to connect with this group (YEAH, I DID!). My first interaction with YACC included spilling all of my fears on the Facebook group. The responses from YACCers — strangers to me at that point — brought more comfort than hearing “you’ll be OK” from my mother.
I did not have the resources I needed in my community to help me navigate the feelings of isolation while I waited a very long month for treatment. I did not know about YACC, but it is my mission to ensure that young adults diagnosed in Canada’s north know about this organization the minute they hear “You have cancer.” We may be isolated in geography, but we shouldn’t be in our cancer journey. Help me help the 21 other young adults diagnosed in Canada each day find YACC.
Diagnosis: Ocular melanoma
Age at diagnosis: 27
AROUND THE WEB:
- Ashley’s YACCtivist posts
- How an Inuvik woman is helping young Canadians navigate a cancer diagnosis (September 1, 2019 – CBC)