New report outlines challenges faced by young cancer patients
More than 7,000 young Canadians are diagnosed with cancer every year, and many hope a new report will lead to more attention for their demographic.
Mike Lang was just 25 years old back in 2008 when he got the diagnosis that turned his life upside-down: Hodgkin lymphoma.
“You’re developing your identity and you are building your careers and you are starting families,” he said. “I was just six months married, didn’t really have any savings, just graduated university, starting my career and me and my wife had to move back into my parent’s basement and for us it was a big step backwards.”
Lang fought the cancer and won, but along the way he learned how having cancer at his age is different, and now he is happy to see the report that backs up his experience with hard data.
“This report is awesome because for the first time we can quantify the things that we have always known and we can take it to doctors and nurses and healthcare officials and administrators and say, this is what makes young adults unique,” he said.
Teens and young adults often face making quick decisions that can have life-altering consequences, such as whether to have children or not. That was one of the choices Julie Wong had to make after her breast cancer diagnosis at 37-years-old.
“I want to settle down, have kids, then boom, this decision is thrown in your face, you have to make it quick, within a week because they can’t delay treatments, this cancer is growing out of control,” she said. “If I decide to have kids I might not be around to see them.”
Both Lang and Wong are optimistic that the new report will help bring in more money for research into cancers in young people.
“We didn’t really know exact numbers of how many young adults were getting diagnosed until this report was done, and that helps people understand the scope and magnitude of the numbers we are dealing with,” said Lang.
“I hope that this support is more integrated into the healthcare system so that other people that have gone through can not have such a hard time and just know ahead of time what to expect,” said Wong.
The report was published by Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and funded by Health Canada. You can take a look at it here.