Oncology Youth Connection’s mission is to inspire resilience in young adults challenged with cancer by providing a community of peers that participate in social, service, and educational activities, and increase awareness about young adult cancer issues.
Here is the thing. We are going to lay it out easy. Open ourselves up as an organization, as a community of people that care so much about this thing called cancer that we have no choice but to get up and be there. There, with you. Not trying to replace anyone, not trying to have all the answers, but trying to be helpers, guides, and more than anything, friends.
We don’t want to write you a booklet to win you over, but instead tell you that despite how scary, confusing and heartbreaking cancer can be, you have a community of doctors, friends, family, experts, fellow survivors, and co-survivors behind you. We are that phone call to let you know, someone who understands is only ten digits away. A friend who can honestly say they don’t have all the answers, but have experience to the questions you now face.
Peer support is one of the most important factors in helping young adults overcome the challenges faced with cancer. OYC’s goal is to continue providing opportunities for fostering those relationships.
- OYC is made up of cancer survivors and co-survivors (those who have a personal cancer experience). They meet regularly to plan activities, coordinate retreats and trips designed specifically to address issues faced by AYA survivors, and create opportunities for them to meet other people their own age with similar challenges.
- OYC representatives reach out to newly diagnosed patients, meeting one-on-one to discuss their concerns and to help introduce them to a community of others their age with similar experiences.
- OYC partners with other organizations to give survivors opportunities for healthy activities while addressing psychological and social needs.
- Through our Shine Project [hotlink], OYC provides young adult cancer survivors with grant money to pursue a project they are passionate about.
Awareness of the facts about adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer has been identified as one of the leading issues behind many of the problems for those with cancer in this age group (18-39). OYC is working to alleviate this in several ways:
- In Spring 2012, OYC is sending teams of two, including a cancer survivor, into Portland and Vancouver area high schools to teach them the facts about cancer in their age group. The high school program will focus on dispelling common myths, as well as giving students accurate facts and information about early detection. It will also provide effective social support strategies for being a good friend to a peer with cancer.
- OYC is partnering with local businesses to place printed stories from AYA cancer survivors in strategic places around the city, like health centers, doctors offices, and work places that attract young people.
- OYC is forming and building on strategic partnerships with other organizations such as LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance, OHSU Transitions Project, Athletes for Cancer, Kinfolk and companies whose demographic targets young adults to bring together awareness and community.