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
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 adultss 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 challenge 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 to young adults.
Karen Fasciano, PsyD
Susan Englander, LICSW
Social Work Liaison
Kelly Trevino, PhD
Rhian Waterberg, MA
Programs and Events
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.
"I'm Too Young for This!" Conference
"I'm Too Young for This!" is an annual conference for people treated for cancer as a young adult and their caregivers. Expert presentations and workshops provide opportunities to learn about the many issues faced by young adults, as well as opportunities to interact with others who may provide peer support. "I'm Too Young for This!" is co-sponsored by Dana-Farber and many other local institutions and non-profit organizations concerned about the need for unique support services for young adults.
Outward Bound Trips
Outward Bound trips encourage you to accept new physical challenges that will make you feel more confident and more connected to a supportive community of young adults with cancer.
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.
Dana-Farber hosts a young adult support group every month, along with disease and identity-specific (e.g. caretaker) support groups. The Young Adult Program can connect you to support groups you may be looking for.
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 email@example.com.
Websites for Young Adults with Cancer
Here are some websites that may be helpful to young adults with cancer:
PLWC is a comprehensive website for patients that includes a whole section for young adults with practical information, support and resources.
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/
General information for young adults with cancer. Offers college scholarships to those with or who had cancer.
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.
The Lance Armstrong 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.org is an educational program of the Lance Armstrong Foundation that addresses the physical, emotional, and practical needs of cancer survivors.
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.
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.
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.
This site has at least two relevant chat rooms: adult survivors of childhood cancer and young cancer survivors.
A comprehensive fertility preservation resource for patients whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.
Colon cancer and general information for young adults
For information about clinical mental health services, please contact Vanessa Pugh at 617-632-4982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about programs, events, or volunteer opportunities, please email email@example.com.