This is the place for young adults with…


This is the place for young adults with cancer

Nov. 22, 2017 | by Ashlinn Sarah Jane

If you are a Canadian young adult cancer patient/survivor, look up Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC)right now.... I'll wait.

On the assumption that you clicked the link, learned that they support young adults as they live with, through and beyond cancer, I will now tell you about my experience with them.

Once called Real Time Cancer, when my sister went on their first retreat way back in the early 00s, this community has evolved to offer all kinds of programs to YA cancer people.

I can't remember when my sister first approached me about going, but I was basically all in. We got the 'ok' from my doctors and flew to Nova Scotia July of 2012 and it was a mix of people waiting for treatment, in treatment, out of treatment, but we all had one thing in common, which was so rare in our other, typical, everyday life.

As a young adult with cancer we are largely a part of a minority. It (mostly) distances us from family, friends, colleagues, and love interests. I was lucky that my sister was diagnosed with a similar cancer 10 years before me and survived to share all her resources and stories and secrets.

Going into this retreat and meeting 30-some other YAs with similar experience was instantly a comfort.

Having the beginning of the rest of our lives interrupted was a sentiment expressed by many. Coming together over something so huge, so life-changing, that in other parts of our lives made us un-relatable and alone was a feeling of unity, solidarity, and togetherness that I have not once since experienced as vividly.

We had a lot of talking circles, check-ins, group activities, presentations, and guitar sessions where a pair of gentledudes wrote lyrics to an anthem called "cancer camp," and we, from then on, sang the song before groups and laying under the night sky where I saw 3 (!) shooting stars.

The experience feels far away now, and I don't remember a lot of details, but I remember how it made me feel and I think that's most important.

The week before the retreat they send you a "roster" of the "campers" and I read every bio carefully.

So many different people, all with this one huge thing in common.

Another thing I remember is staying up late in my hospital room reading during treatment after discovering Lisa Ray's The Yellow Diaries. I read all the posts diligently. I highly recommend this to anyone in treatment. It can be helpful to both have someone to relate to, but something to distract you simultaneously.

Young adult cancer is atypical, and there is so much care for younger children and older adults going through a battle, but I definitely suggest looking into YA resources if you are one going through treatment.

In Canada there are also yearly conferences, and for all these programs food and accommodations are paid for, you just have to pay your way there, and luckily they move around every year to all the major cities so hopefully there will be one near you soon.

Love to all YAC patients,



Identity leukemia

Ashlinn Sarah Jane

Ashlinn Sarah Jane

I survived leukemia at 21 through an anonymous donation of stem cells. After losing my mum to breast cancer at 17, my sister, a survivor of non-hodgkins lymphoma was there to help me through. Through my posts I hope to showcase an honest portrayal of battling cancer, while sharing my personal story and the issues that have been important to me.