Learning you have cancer is difficult to hear at any age, but the struggles of living with the disease can look different to younger survivors.
Hannah Bean of Eugene was 25 years old when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer she hadn’t heard of before her diagnosis. Her treatment consisted of six rounds of chemotherapy, which were complicated when Hannah was hospitalized with an infection.
“It took a while. It was hard,” she says.
Friends and family encouraged her to join a support group, but Hannah wasn’t ready.
“I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to go from point A to point B and then it would be done. There would be no lasting side effects, there’d be no lasting anything. But I didn’t know what a mental toll that was taking on me,” she says.
When Hannah finally reached out, she connected with a national group called First Descents—and quickly realized the power of community.
“The first day we went white water rafting, and the second day we went kayaking. And between those events, and during those events, we talked about the one thing we all had in common: cancer. And the fact that we were all young adults, both males and females, with different kinds of cancer.”
Since her experience with First Descents, Hannah has gone skiing on Mount Hood with a group called Athletes for Cancer and sailing around the Discovery Islands, off the coast of British Columbia, with the support organization Survive and Thrive. Now, three years into remission, Hannah has started a local support group for young cancer survivors, who often face difficult issues during and following treatment.
“Fertility is a big one. Job loss, the worry that spending long periods of time, or any period of time, in the hospital could easily effect your job,” she says.
The Young Cancer Survivors Support Group is designed for men and women, ages 18-39. While it won’t be quite as adventurous as the excursions Hannah experienced with other support groups, she intends for it to be an active group, as well as a support network.
If you are interested in attending the support group, email Hannah at email@example.com.