There is a whole generation of young adults who are battling cancer. Some are personally involved with their own diagnosis and fight daily against the raging side effects, the hormonal ups and downs of steroids, the uncertainty of their future, and loneliness.
|Madelyn on left, Julia on right.
Today I went to The Melodies Center and visited with two young adults who have dealt with all of the above and more. It’s only been two weeks since Julia, a 19-year-old who relapsed, has woken up from being in a sedated state for one month. None of the doctors thought she would come out of it as her organs began to fail. But somehow Julia came back to see her mom waiting for her and amazed doctors and nurses welcoming her back. In remission Julia now has to deal with aphasia which has affected her speech. Madelyn who is currently in treatment for Leukemia was in clinic and had shared a room with Julia a few months ago. They have the same type of cancer, but lost touch after Madelyn was discharged. I invited Madelyn to Julia’s room (with Julia’s permission) and both their faces lit up. Madelyn accepted Julia’s hesitant speech and took off her wig so that they both displayed their beautiful bald heads. They talked about their treatment and how they wished the residents treated them as the young adults they are, not like little children. In their own way they are raising awareness of how their generation–stuck between being a teen and an adult would like to be treated. While they educate others, they lean on one another and erase that sense of loneliness that every cancer patient experiences. They know what the other is going through and there is a sense of unity and healing that comes with that knowledge. I’m so glad they have each other.
While Julia and Madelyn were reconnecting, another Julia and her friend Sophie were in the oncology clinic spending time with the younger patients as they waited for treatment. They helped Esther paint a wooden heart with bright glitter paint, guided a sibling named Ryan while she made sand art, and kept 3-year-old Elsa busy painting beautiful birdhouses while I visited with her mom. These young ladies and many others are part of Nick’s Round Table and they share the vision and goal to help these children heal. They aren’t medical doctors (although some are indeed entering that field because of their experiences), but they spend time doing crafts, distracting children from their pain, and give each child a reason to smile while they are getting treatment. This generation of young adults know about loss, grief, heartache, and they are doing something about it so the next generation can have a more positive experience.
Raising awareness and educating the public about what children with cancer go through and what can be done is a major part of the foundation’s mission. Through a recommendation and references, my son, Stephen, was chosen to be a News Channel 13 Kids Who Care, because of his dedication to Nick’s Round Table and helping other children with cancer. With help from fellow Round Table members PK, Alyssia, and Tyler, he told his story and why he fought against cancer. Stephen, every member of Nick’s Round Table, and every young adult who raises money, awareness, holds a friend’s hand, comforts others, and fights cancer are making a difference in their own lives and the lives of children.
See Stephen’s video below:
They are the Amazing Generation, because they aren’t standing back and letting life take over. They are taking on life and living it fully, with intention, and dedication. Whether these young adults are fighting for their lives, spending time with sick children, or spreading awareness, they all have a hand in winning the war against cancer and I’m proud of them.