The Cancer Transition from Age Group to Age Group

by Nick GiallourakisSeptember 5, 2019View more posts from Nick Giallourakis

I recently attended the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2) Summit this past June in Columbus, Ohio. Kudos goes out to the folks at CAC2 and Nationwide Children’s Hospital for putting on such an amazing conference.

For those of you that do not know, my brother Steven was diagnosed with his first cancer at the age of 15.  While adolescents age (the A in AYA) is 15-18 years old, childhood and pediatric cancers are of ages 0-17 so there is overlap between the childhood cancer community and the AYA cancer community and is a part of the AYA age group.

Part of the discussions that were ongoing at the CAC2 Summit was the transition from being a childhood cancer survivor to an AYA cancer survivor and then to an adult cancer survivor.

Confused yet? Me too.  But there is a significant worry from patients, survivors and their caregivers on what to do when someone turns 18 or 40.  Do they get the same support?  Can they still work with certain organizations?  These are serious concerns and ones that most people do not even think about or ever need to think about.

Over the past few years as we were running the Steven G. AYA Cancer Research fund, we would have debates in our family and with our board about whether we should support certain initiatives that may be more focus on childhood/pediatric cancers or young adult cancers.  Like all good Greek families, the conversation was very colorful.

At the end of the day, what I have now learned over the past few years, does it really matter?

I’ve spoken with a handful of survivors and patients in their 30s over the past couple of weeks that had cancer before they were 10 years old.  While their age fits the AYA population they still identify themselves as childhood cancer survivors.  And that is absolutely fine!

But why do some support organizations in specific age groups not identify or seem to help those of certain ages? At Elephants and Tea, we are focused mainly on the AYA cancer community, but we will never turn away anyone that finds the stories and content we provide helpful and inspiring.

I want to make this crystal clear – we will NEVER turn away anyone based on your age.  Those that have the unfortunate luck to be dealing with cancer deserves all the help you want and need – trust me I know from experience.

If you are reading this and you are not in the age range of 15-39, please do not be alarmed.  If our stories are helping you or a loved one get through the day then by all means, please continue to read them and share them!  We welcome you with open arms and hearts!  We are One Herd and together we can help each other get through the day and live life to the fullest!

As always never hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or comments about Elephants and Tea.   Have an amazing and wonderful fall season!

:-)