Being a freak in the dating world, wondering how long our futures will last, wresting with fertility, interrupting our work lives, our school lives. Young adult cancer patients aren’t the only ones who get to lay claim to this nasty package of dilemmas.
I get incredible emails from patients who have read this blog and my book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s. These emails are not just from cancer patients but people who are living with cystic fibrosis, endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes. Our diseases are so different, but the similarities of our lives are astounding.
Yesterday, on the New York Times Well Blog, Tara Parker Pope had an incredible slide show called Voices of Cystic Fibrosis. Check it out. It reminded me how much I can learn by expanding beyond the little shell of the cancer community.
There are other people out there our own age who get what it means to be a virgin because nobody wants to sleep with the sick girl, or who understand all too well how to tactfully enlighten employers about the Americans with Disabilities Act.
It makes me wonder if we limit ourselves too much by hanging out in the comfy cancer world. A lot of young cancer patients live in small towns where there are no cancer happy hours. So what if you go have a beer with the guy at school who has diabetes? A lot of us are struggling with health insurance or medical debt. So would young adults have more political power to advocate for change if we hooked up with other disease advocacy groups?
Do you read this blog and have a disease that is not cancer? If you are a cancer patient, have you connected with other young adults who have different diseases? What was it like? What do you think about opening up happy hours, support groups, radio shows, and other young adult programming to people who are survivors of diseases other than cancer? Or, am I getting too kumbaya? (I have obsessively been watching the I’d like to buy the world a coke commercial lately).