Advocacy skills training for young adult cancer survivors: the Young Adult Survivors Conference at Camp Māk-a-Dream
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- Zebrack, B.J., Oeffinger, K.C., Hou, P. et al. Support Care Cancer (2006) 14: 779. doi:10.1007/s00520-005-0906-4
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Goals of the work
This manuscript reports on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the Young Adult Survivor Conference (YASC)—a 4-day retreat designed to provide an educational and support experience for cancer survivors diagnosed as children, adolescents, and young adults. The goals of the program were to address issues of survivorship, provide cancer education and tools for self-advocacy, and build bridges of support among young adult cancer survivors who may be experiencing similar journeys through life.
YASC was designed to offer advocacy skills specific to participants’ needs. Workshops focused on understanding late effects, mentoring and communication, tips for starting peer support programs and networks, and opportunities for offering public testimony and involvement in public policy.
Program evaluation indicated that participants achieved personal goals and expectations for having fun, meeting other survivors, understanding more about their cancer and potential late effects, and learning about how to tell their story so that it will help others.
Involvement with peers who have shared a similar experience provided participants an opportunity to address areas of concern such as coping with uncertainty, dependency vs autonomy, social exclusion, body image, intimacy, sexuality and fertility, and career options. Participation in programs such as the YASC offers young survivors opportunities for life experiences that may promote successful achievement of age-appropriate developmental tasks.