New cancer support network for young adults
When you hear those immortal words: ‘You have cancer’, a bomb explodes in the middle of your life, your world stops turning, all because of three small, yet huge words.
As you find your footing in this new world of sickness, disease, hospitals, treatments, what you need more than the medicine or surgery that is keeping you alive, is someone who understands, someone who has walked in your shoes, someone who gets the loss you feel at losing your hair or has grieved for the babies you aren’t completely sure you wanted, that person who like you was learning who they were, had forever and a day to decide what career they wanted or thought about the ‘grown up’ things like mortgages and houses.
This comes, not from the elderly cancer patient in the bed beside you, or your older chemo comrade, but someone who understands the power of the cancer bomb when it comes in the early years of adulthood. In a country that still sees cancer as an ‘old person disease’ it is both difficult and overwhelming to be in search for this support, and not finding it. This is where YouCan Ireland comes in.
In early February 2015 a call went out all Ireland in search of young people who had had or currently had a cancer diagnosis as a young adult (we later defined this as a person in their 20s & 30s).
We came from all over the country and met in a little community centre in the middle of Dublin City.
All strangers, yet bonded by a disease and all wanting the same thing- support; a voice; to be recognised.
As we shared stories that day, several things began to emerge; while there are fantastic services in Ireland, there is both a severe lack of services and networks open to young adults with cancer to come together, interact, exchange stories, to offer support to each other, but perhaps more worryingly, every young person in that room had had a negative experience along the way, something we felt needed to be prevented. It was evident we couldn’t walk away and not do something to help others who would find themselves on our path.
It was here YouCan Ireland was first born.
Here at YouCan Ireland we believe that if a young adult is diagnosed with cancer they should have easily accessible and age appropriate supports and networks to guide them and their families through their cancer experience.
Our purpose is simple; a nationwide support system for young adults with cancer, to advocate for consistent and age appropriate respectful care that supports young adults with a cancer diagnosis, to educate the public and medical profession on the experiences of you adults with cancer, and to be the face of young adult cancer.
It was also evident to us that we as young adults need to be recognised, cancer doesn’t just happen to older people.
It is because of this almost taboo that YouCan Ireland want to share accurate information of experiences of living with cancer, it can be overwhelming have information coming at you from all angles, therefore to work with others to provide a one stop shop for information on treatment entitlements, the do’s and don’ts, and perhaps most importantly, provide peer support.
We are a nationwide service, meaning we travel all over the country to where people are, we meet every six weeks in different parts of Ireland, making it easier for our members to attend. As well as this, we are on all social media, but more importantly we have a private online forum for young adults to come ask questions, vent, and chat.
This forum is growing every day, letting cancer patients out there know they are not alone.
What makes us unique, YouCan is run by cancer survivors, we all have had a range of different cancers and treatments, you could say we are pros of the cancer world. We are in the early days of setting up but as the weeks go by, we are growing momentum, determined to change how people view young adult cancers and help those warriors who have been in our shoes.
Cancer is a lonely, scary world. We are here to support any young adult cancer patients, we get it. Remember, even when it seems too much, you’ve got this, youcan do this, youwill do this and YouCan Ireland is here every step of the way.