Young Adult Program

Young Adult Program staff members 

Young adults with cancer face very different challenges than patients who were diagnosed earlier in childhood or later in adulthood.

The Young Adult Program at Dana-Farber (YAP@DFCI) is part of an international initiative to recognize and address the unique circumstances related to lifestyle, work, school, family life, and emotional development that young adults face when living with cancer.

YAP@DFCI provides emotional support services, opportunities to meet other young adults receiving treatment, and educational programs aimed at enhancing knowledge and self-advocacy skills.

About the Young Adult Program

YAP patient with a staff member 

Young adults with cancer often face challenges different from those of children and older adults. Our mission is to provide clinical services and programs that validate and support the needs of young adults with cancer. We are committed to:

  • Easing the emotional burden of living and coping with cancer
  • Empowering young adults to become active participants in their cancer treatment
  • Providing emotional and social support in the form of educational workshops, conferences, opportunities to network with other young adults with cancer, and clinical mental health services

We also ensure that young adults are aware of — and have access to — programs provided through other offices, divisions, and departments within Dana-Farber.

Who is the Young Adult Program for?

YAP@DFCI provides services for young adult patients being treated at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

"Young adult" is loosely defined as anyone 18-39 years old. However, if you are out of this age range and consider yourself a young adult, don’t hesitate to contact us to see if our programs may be appropriate for you.

Behavioral health services

Our clinicians in the Department of Social Work and the Division of Psychosocial Oncology have specific expertise working with young adults and addressing issues such as:

  • Emotional challenges adjusting to cancer diagnosis
  • Communicating with peers and family
  • Building and maintaining intimate relationships
  • Issues of loss

Our services include:

  • Comprehensive assessment of emotional challenges and needs
  • Behavior-related coping skills such as relaxation techniques
  • Individual, couples, and family therapy
  • Sexual health, development, and fertility

The YAP team

The Young Adult Program team, in collaboration with the Department of Social Work and Division of Psychosocial Oncology, is a core group of staff dedicated to coordinating support and programs for young adults.

Karen FascianoKaren Fasciano, PsyD
Program Director
Phoebe SouzaPhoebe Souza, LCSW, MPH 
Phoebe SouzaPaige Malinowski  

Programs and Events

Young Adult Program support group 

YAP@DFCI hosts a variety of programs for young adults with cancer that focus on peer support, skill building, educational workshops, and social networking.

Art & Healing

Art & Healing is a program that provides a space to appreciate art, reflect about your illness experience, and meet other young adults who are coping with cancer.

Just for Caregivers

YAP@DFCI/Caregiver is an online community where caregivers of all new, current, and recent young adult patients at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) can share information, learn care giving strategies, understand the unique issues young adults coping with cancer face, and connect with other caregivers of young adults at DF/BWCC. To request access, call 617-632-6819 or email

Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer

Dana-Farber's Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer focuses on the unique needs of women in their early 40s and younger who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, including fertility and genetic counseling, and state-of-the-art cancer care.

Support Groups

Dana-Farber hosts young adult support group sessions every month, along with disease- and identity-specific (e.g., caregiver) support groups. The young adult support group is open to patients between the ages of 18 and 39, whether they are treated at Dana-Farber or elsewhere. The Young Adult Program can also connect patients and their caregivers to other support groups that may be helpful.


The young adult webinar series addresses topics unique to young adults with cancer. The webinars are held on the first Wednesday of each month. Previous topics have included: body image, retreats, spirituality and integrative therapies. Past webinars are archived and accessible to YAP members on our YAP@DFCI website.


Educational workshops provide opportunities to expand your knowledge base, connect with peers, and challenge your understanding around such topics as sexuality and sensuality, personal therapeutic outlets (such as music), and the impact of cancer on personal identity.

screenshot of the YAP@DFCI website 
YAP@DFCI Website

Our website is a private online community for, about, and by young adults at Dana-Farber. Join us to share your thoughts and experiences, learn about ways to cope with the emotional effects of treatment, and connect with other young adult patients. This site is open to all new, current, and recent young adult Dana-Farber patients.

If you're a Dana-Farber patient and want to request access to the site, please email

Young Adult Cancer Conference

The Young Adult Cancer Conference is an annual conference for people treated for cancer as a young adult and their caregivers. After an opening session presented by a young adult who has coped with cancer, facilitated workshops provide opportunities to learn about the many issues faced by young adults, as well as opportunities to converse with other young adults and their caregivers. This is a community conference and is open to patients treated at Dana-Farber and at outside institutions. The conference is held in the end of March/beginning of April each year. View the 2014 keynote address from Tara Shuman, 34-year-old cancer survivor, wife, mother, and blogger. Email to learn about the upcoming conference and other events.

Websites for Young Adults with Cancer

Here are some websites that may be helpful to young adults with cancer:

Planet Cancer

Probably the best Internet resource for 18-30+ year-olds. Online support, professional medical access, advice, humor (irreverent as appropriate). Hosts weekend retreats in central Texas.

Ulman Fund

General information for young adults with cancer. Offers college scholarships to those with or who had cancer.

Vital Options

Founder Selma Schimmel started Vital Options as one of the first organizations to support young adults with cancer. Listen online to The Group Room®, a nationally syndicated radio call-in talk show about cancer.

Livestrong Foundation

The Livestrong Foundation's mission is to "enhance the quality of survival of those diagnosed with cancer," through support programs, survivorship resources, advocacy and clinical research. Livestrong Foundation provides educational programs that address the physical, emotional, and practical needs of cancer survivors.

Surviving and Moving Forward

This is a unique non-profit organization created to assist young adult survivors of cancer with a successful transition into their post-treatment life by providing financial support through the distribution of grants and scholarships.

Cancer and Careers

Through a comprehensive website, free publications, career coaching, and a series of support groups and educational seminars for employees with cancer and their health care providers and co-workers, Cancer and Careers strives to eliminate fear and uncertainty for working people with cancer.

Cancer Care

CancerCare is a national non-profit organization that provides free professional support services to anyone affected by cancer: people with cancer, caregivers, children, loved ones, and the bereaved. They have a section (under "Cancer Care services") for young adults.

American Cancer Society Cancer Survivors' Network

This site has at least two relevant chat rooms: adult survivors of childhood cancer and young cancer survivors.

Livestrong Fertility

A comprehensive fertility preservation resource for patients whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.

Critical Mass: Mission Control

Critical Mass is an advocacy organization dedicated to transforming the care and treatment of young adults with cancer. Their Mission Control portal is a one-stop shop for young adult resources and services.

Imerman Angels

This organization provides free one-on-one support for cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers.

Stupid Cancer

Stupid Cancer is a non-profit organization whose mission is to "ensure that no one affected by young adult cancer goes unaware of the age-appropriate resources they are entitled to." Their website is fun, interactive, and provides a wealth of young adult resources and information according to the type of help you are seeking.

First Descents

This program offers free and fun outdoor adventure experiences throughout the country to young adults with cancer.


Contact Us

For information about clinical mental health services, please contact Vanessa Pugh at 617-632-4982 or

For information about programs, events, or volunteer opportunities, please email

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Highlight Glossary Terms
  • YAP Website

  • Caregiver Community

    • screenshot of the Young Adult Program Caregivers websiteIf you're caring for a young adult with cancer, join our online community for helpful resources and to connect with others going through similar situations.
  • Young Adult Cancer Conference

    • Joe and Jen AndruzziJoin us Saturday, March 28, 2015, for our annual Young Adult Cancer Conference. Hear patient speaker Carolyn Ridge and featured guests former New England Patriots player Joe Andruzzi and his wife, Jen, share their experiences with cancer, while learning coping strategies and meeting other young adults facing similar challenges.
  • Young Adults Coping with Cancer Google+ Hangout

  • YAP Live Twitter Chats

  • Cancer between the Lines

    • Young adults coping with cancer can face a variety of challenges, including communicating with their caregivers. Watch one patient and her medical caregiver discuss a moment of weakness during treatment and how they overcame it. If you’re interested in sharing your unique experience living as a young adult with cancer through our "Cancer between the Lines" video conversations, email or call 617-632-6819.
  • Young adults coping with cancer

  • Young Men with Testicular Cancer

    • If you are a young man diagnosed with testicular cancer, you face some unique challenges. Understand how testicular cancer is diagnosed and treated at Dana-Farber. Learn how to perform a self-exam.