“You learn quickly that cancer is an inhospitable house guest: It shows up when you’re least prepared and leaves your place ransacked with no money for a maid.” – Andrew McMahon stated in his patient-advice column for the US News on October 26, 2015.
While we continue to improve treatments and lifespans of those touched by cancer, there is one “lost generation,” that continues to look for more outlets and more efficient treatment plans and therapies and even facilities to complete their journey after diagnosis. The adolescent and young adults are in quite the in between when it comes to these medical advances. Many times doctors and hospitals either place these patients in facilities with children much younger than themselves, or quite the opposite, in facilities with patients sometimes 20 years their senior. It makes for the process to be just that much more grueling on the young cancer fighter.
Many times people who are not directly affected by cancer(s), don’t see the exhausting journey a cancer patient and/or survivor must go through. The entire process can put a large toll on a person’s emotions, body, finances and even relationships, friends, families and significant others alike. Besides physical setbacks, such as feeling “older,” not having enough energy as you once did or even scars, or weight change, this generation can also be struck with financial burdens due to insufficient insurances/job benefits and even high student loans. Not only are we asking this youth to come out with a successful cancer eliminating procedure, but we are now pushing them into the real world with many other burdens placed on heavy shoulders.
Andrew McMahon, now in his early-thirties is a 10-year leukemia survivor and an influential singer-songwriter. Some would know him from former projects such as Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate or his recent solo project, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. Through McMahon’s cancer treatment he was placed in a facility with others while beyond his own years. Getting the support and understanding therapy options that were offered around him didn’t connect to his youth and emotions he was feeling. The place in his life that he was currently experiencing was entirely different than the other patients around him. While going through his own treatments he could see how this “lost generation” needed a voice to advocate and show what was needed most, support.
McMahon has since started a charitable foundation called Dear Jack Foundation (dearjackfoundation.com) that supports and advocates for the adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer.
Andrew McMahon, photo shoot for his Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness project.
The best way to help is be an advocate for those who don’t have a voice. Be a support system for those who just need some assistant to get their voice heard. And those of us who aren’t completing cancer treatments can just be patient, be understanding, but importantly just be there for our loved ones.
Knowles, Kimarie. “Young Adults: Coping with Life After Cancer.” Smithl. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Apr. 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://www.lls.org/blog/young-adults-coping-with-life-after-cancer>.
McMahon, Andrew. “Singer Andrew McMahon on the ‘Lost Generation’ of Young Adult Cancer Patients.” U.S News and World Report. U.S News and World Report, 26 Oct. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. <http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/10/26/singer-andrew-mcmahon-on-the-lost-generation-of-young-adult-cancer-patients>.