Celebrate good yimes

Almost six years ago, a few months short of my 29th birthday, I was diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer, Ewing's sarcoma. Yes, pediatric. So despite my age, I was treated in the children's ward, which certainly had its upsides. Anesthesia for procedures adults are usually expected to just grin and bear, like bone marrow aspirations. Posh accommodations with flat screen TVs and advanced screening DVDs of movies out in the theaters. The kids' menu.

The downside, of course, was that people my age were few and far between. I wasn't by any means the only adult pediatric patient (or geriatric ped as I like to say), but I was twice as old as the teen-aged patients who were the cohort closest to my age.

About a year after I finished chemo, the organization I'm Too Young For This! hit the headlines in The New York Times and Time magazine. I'd previously joined a young adult support group at Gilda's Club in Manhattan, but it was only three people and myself. But i[2]y, as it's abbreviated, was a gateway to a slew of young adult survivors in New York City, where I lived at the time and where the organization is based.

I attended some of their happy hours and their annual "Un-Gala" and even participated in discussions on next steps for the organization. It was invigorating to meet people my own age who'd been through the cancer machine. Or were still going through it.

At the end of this month, I'm attending i[2]y's 5th Annual OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults in Las Vegas. Despite the fact that the event has been held in New York City, or at least New York State, for most of the previous conferences I was never able to attend. But Vegas is incredibly motivating, as is the program of the conference, particularly the events surrounding the movie 50/50.

Seeing 50/50, in which a young man has a spinal tumor not unlike the one I had, was another turning point in my cancer recovery. At the OMG! Summit, the movie's writer, Will Reiser, who based the story on his own experience, will be honored and the film with have a midnight screening. It was moving to watch in the theater, but I anticipate that watching it surrounded by other YA survivors will be an entirely different experience. I think we won't be as afraid to laugh at the funny bits because we get that it's not all doom and gloom. (When I saw it in the theater with a lay audience, I noticed that the room got rather awkward when the movie took non-serious turns.) You have to take the humor where you can.

I'm also psyched to see old friends from i[2]y New York and my new i[2]y Boston family, as well as people I met a few summers ago at the survivor kayaking camp, First Descents. And then there are a handful of people I've been in touch with but never met. Like Jonny Imerman, founder of Imerman Angels, a foundation that matches survivors out of treatment with survivors in treatment of a similar age and diagnosis. I've twice been a mentor for Imerman Angels and corresponded with Jonny, but the times he's been in Boston (where I live now), I've been out of town and we've always wanted to connect.

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
Special Feature
Share Your Art
Related Articles
BRCA Mutations May Cause Drug Resistance in Breast and Ovarian Cancer
There is a relationship between the genetics of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and the risk of a patient with breast or ovarian cancer being resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy, according to recent research conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The study’s senior author Katherine Nathanson, M.D., spoke with CURE about these findings.
Sarah Sciortino on Fertility and Sexuality in Younger Patients with Ovarian Cancer
Sarah Sciortino, MSW, LSW, Oncology Psychosocial Support Services Program Coordinator at University of Chicago Hospital, discusses the unique concerns that younger patients with ovarian cancer can face.
Caring With Confidence: Study Examines Caregiver Mastery and Patient Survival in GBM
A recent study found that the level of family caregiver mastery may have an effect on the survival of patients with glioblastoma.
Related Videos
Examining Quality of Life Issues for Patients With MPNs
Sandra Allen-Bard, MSN, ANCC, AOCNP, of Weill Cornell Medical Center, discusses the impact myeloproliferative neoplasms can have on patients' quality of life.
Elliott Winton on the Changing Landscape of MPN Treatment
Elliott Winton, M.D., researcher, physician and 2016 MPN Hero, discusses some of the drastic changes that happened over the past decade or so in the world of MPNs. 
Siddhartha Mukherjee on Increasing MPN Awareness
Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., Ph.D, an oncologist, researcher and Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer, discusses the increasing awareness about myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs).
//For side ad protocol