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 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 Social Work and Psychosocial Oncology have specific expertise working with young adults and addressing emotional challenges such as:
- Adjusting to a cancer diagnosis as a young adult
- Communicating with peers, family, and caregivers
- Building and maintaining intimate relationships
- Struggles with body image and physical changes
- Coping with uncertainty
- Confronting losses
- Feeling alone
- Challenges to personal identity
- Promoting personal resilience
Our services include:
- Comprehensive assessment of emotional challenges and needs
- Behavior-related coping skills
- Individual, couples, and family therapy
- Sexual health, development, and fertility
- Medication interventions
The YAP team
The Young Adult Program team, part of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, is a core group of staff dedicated to coordinating support and programs for young adults.
Phoebe Souza, LCSW, MPH Paige Malinowski,
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.
YAP can connect you with social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists who have specific expertise working with young adults. Counselors can help you better understand the emotional impact and challenges of coping with cancer, and can introduce you to helpful, concrete strategies for increasing your coping skills. We offer services for individuals, couples, and families.
Family Connections is dedicated to supporting adult cancer patients who are parents and their children. The program offers guidance, information, and resources to those who are dealing with cancer in their family, and helps identify and respond to the needs of parents and children by supporting, supplementing, and empowering family coping.
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. Watch an overview of the community's features.
To request access, call 617-632-6819 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
YAP has developed conversational tools to help discuss the unique needs of young adults with cancer. Email email@example.com to learn more or to obtain a copy of this tool.
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.
Technology for Young Adults
Using technology and social media to connect with your peers can be very helpful in coping with cancer. Here are some ways you can connect with YAP and other young adults online:
- Join regular Twitter chats (#YAPchat) hosted by our Twitter handle, @DanaFarberYAP
- Follow the wider #ayacsm (adolescent and young adult cancer social media) community on Twitter
- Follow YAP on Facebook to stay up-to-date on events and resources
- Tweet us your songs for our #YAcancerplaylist on Spotify, a collection of songs submitted by young adults that inspire them or give them strength or joy during treatment, and follow the playlist
- Get involved with our YAP: Focus photography project by tweeting us photos of life as a young adult with cancer using the hashtag #YAPfocus, or upload them to our gallery
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.
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. Watch an overview of the website's features.
If you're a Dana-Farber patient and want to request access to the site, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 2015 keynote address from Carolyn Ridge, a young adult coping with ovarian cancer. Email email@example.com 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:
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 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.
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.
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.
This organization provides free one-on-one support for cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers.
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.
This program offers free and fun outdoor adventure experiences throughout the country to young adults with cancer.
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.