YACCtivist: Keri Blackwell

YACCtivist: Keri Blackwell

I’ve lived with cancer longer then without. My first diagnosis was at 18-months-old; stable at 10-years-old. Life for me was different. It was never “normal,” but it was quite full with appointments, school, graduation, friends, moving away, and starting a career in the human services field.

At 25, my world came crashing down as I received multiple diagnosis — one after another — along with another terminal diagnosis. Right before Christmas, my doctor sat on the edge of my hospital bed and gave me weeks to live. I was in disbelief. “You don’t know me. I’ve got shit to do” were the only words I could my mumble.

Obviously my doctors didn’t know who they were dealing with. I completed chemotherapy and a surgery on my aorta that I had to beg for. I went back to school to start a new career in the medical field. Life was so different and I struggled a lot, always feeling isolated in a room full of people. Cancer made me different again.

I was working at my dream job in the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre when a sweet YACCer asked me if I wanted to buy a colouring book in support of Young Adult Cancer Canada. I did and quickly jumped on Google to read all about the organization. I must have spent hours reading the profiles of all the YACCers. For once, I didn’t feel so alone.

I’ve felt so alone and disconnected from the world because of cancer. Family and friends are great supporter, but they can only understand so much. To truly thrive through a diagnosis, you need connection; you need people who actually “get it.” And that’s why I’ve signed on to be a YACCtivist.

Twenty-two young adults are diagnosed each day with cancer in Canada, but only one finds YACC — I want to help change that statistic. I want to help other young adults move out of isolation, make genuine connections, and thrive through and beyond their diagnosis.

Diagnosis: Stage 4 neuroblastoma, stage 2&3 renal cell carcinoma, stage 3 thyroid cancer, stage 4 soft cell carcinoma on the aorta plus we’re watching spots on liver, lung breast and kidney (again)

Age at diagnosis: 25

Province: NS

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