Governments need to do more for young people with cancer: report
It’s been eight years since Mike Lang learned he had cancer.
“When I was 25, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was a real shock because I was a ski patroller, adventure guide…really fit and it was just not anything that I was expecting,” Lang said.
Today, Lang’s cancer remains in remission. But like many young adult cancer survivors, Lang’s experience continues to impact his life.
That’s why a new report from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is calling on policymakers to do more to help young people facing cancer, both during and after their illness.
“Young adults are entering a developmental period that’s crucial for starting careers and becoming financially stable and having children, so their needs are very different,” said Janine Giese-Davis, associate professor of oncology at the University of Calgary.
According to the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, about 7,600 Canadians between the ages of 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year and more than 80 per cent will survive.
The report says those numbers emphasize the need for more support programs to help prepare young people for life after the disease. Programs that can help address issues related to some of the lasting side effects of cancer treatments, like infertility.
“Sometimes you don’t know how long it’s going to be into that ‘survivorship’ period that the chemicals absorbed through their treatment or the radiation is going to have an effect on their fertility,” Giese-Davis said.
That particular issue is top of mind for Lang, who is now married and in his 30s. He says when he and his wife first decided to start a family, he was told because of his cancer treatment, he likely wouldn’t be able to have children.
“We made an appointment with the fertility clinic and a week before we were supposed to go there, we found out my wife was pregnant. So it’s a bit of a miracle, but I don’t think it should be!
“I don’t think it should have to be a miracle for someone diagnosed with cancer as young adult to have a child.”
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