Two years ago, 60 Minutes Australia was filming an episode that highlighted young adult cancer in Australian teens. It shed a light on the high recurrence rate and the difficulties of being in a country that is so big with a diagnosis that is so rare and so, so deadly.
After filming wrapped up, a producer approached the Sony Foundation Australia's
CEO, Sophie Ryan, and asked her if she had ever heard of IHadCancer.com. When she said no, he proceeded to tell her all about our little community that was beginning to take off more than 10,000 miles away in New York City.
A few weeks later, Sophie found herself in the States and we found her knocking on our door. At our first meeting, she told us all about the Sony Foundation Australia's young adult cancer initiative: You Can
, a youth cancer program on a mission to fund specialised youth cancer centres in hospitals around Australia to address the current gap in the healthcare system. According to You Can, "young Australians with cancer are a 'forgotten generation' who are falling through the gaps of our medical system. Young people aged between 16 and 25 have significantly poorer survival rates than children and older adults due to a lack of access to age appropriate care."
Children's hospitals treat patients up until the age of 15, at which point young adult patients are transferred over to Adults, where they are typically the youngest person there by 40-50 years. Neither case is a fit, so young adults experience a unique degree of isolation.
Sophie and the Sony Foundation Australia team recognized that the IHadCancer system could make a big impact on this problem. You Can saw the need for a place where young people affected by cancer could find peer-to-peer support no matter where they were or what stage they were at in their journey -- a place where they could go when they couldn't talk to their parents, when their mates didn't get it, a place where they wouldn't have to censor their journey. What they needed was a virtual You Can Centre where all the discussions were by young people, for young people.
In the months that have passed since Sophie's first visit, we have been working closely with the Sony Foundation Australia Team and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
, where the Melbourne You Can Centre is located, to create You Can Connect
, a social platform tailored for people 15 - 35 in Australia who have faced cancer and want to connect with others in a similar boat - both in Australia and around the world.
If you are an active IHadCancer.com member between the ages of 15-35 and recently noticed an influx of young adult cancer survivors from Australia participating in the community, say hello (or "G'Day!") and welcome them to the IHadCancer network. Every You Can member will be easy to spot - just look for the black and white 'You Can' badge next to their username. Learn more about their incredible stories by checking out some of the most recent blogs from You Can: Cancer Took My Eye But It Can't Take My Spirit
, I Heard "It's Cancer" 3x Before the Age of 21
, Cancer Is A Part Of My Life But It's Not The Whole Thing
, and many more.
Thank you to the Sony Foundation Australia for giving us the opportunity to make a significant impact across all of Australia, and, one day, all over the world by shining the light on the issues that young people with cancer face and giving them a voice to share, connect and thrive.
If you have any questions about You Can and IHadCancer's partnership with the Sony Foundation Australia, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.