Empowering Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA) with Cancer: CANSA Free2Bme Service
23 August 2023 – September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and CANSA is delighted to unveil an inspiring initiative aimed at making a significant impact in the lives of mid adolescents and young adults (AYA) between the ages of 13 and 25 who are facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis. The CANSA Free2Bme programme is a beacon of hope and support tailored to meet the unique needs of young individuals on their cancer journey.
Navigating the uncharted waters of adolescence can be demanding. But when combined with a cancer diagnosis, it poses an even greater set of challenges. CANSA carefully designed the CANSA Free2Bme programme to address these challenges head-on, providing a platform where AYA individuals can find a community, resources, and inspiration to help them embrace their individuality and confidently overcome the hurdles that come with cancer.
Mariska Schultz (27) was 15 when doctors diagnosed her with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “This first year with cancer had to be the worst for me, as everything was new and uncertain. I lost a lot of friends because I was not in school for days and later weeks at a time.”
Her cancer journey lasted four years. “For a long time, I didn’t talk about it. But after a while, I changed my mind and embraced what happened to me. Having a programme that supports teenagers and young adults would have empowered me to handle the stresses, family and emotional aspects of this disease a lot better. ”
With an emphasis on holistic well-being, CANSA Free2Bme offers information, activities and services that foster personal growth, emotional resilience and social connections.
From coping strategies and self-care practices to online support groups that encourage open dialogue and shared experiences, CANSA is committed to nurturing an environment where young warriors can thrive despite their circumstances.
21-year-old Fortune Monama is an undergraduate in Biological Science at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He was 12 when doctors diagnosed him with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. He spent nine months in hospital before he could go home. “The journey taught me patience, courage, and hope. Today, I know that I can achieve whatever I desire with the right amount of hope.”
“We understand that being diagnosed with cancer as an adolescent or young adult can be challenging while facing everyday life,” says Anina Meiring, National Manager: Childhood Cancer Service at CANSA.
“In 2019, almost 800 females below the age of 25 years, were diagnosed with cancer comprising 1,8% of all female-related cancer. With the CANSA Free2Bme programme, we aim for adolescents and young adults to feel supported and prepared while undergoing treatment or continue life as a cancer survivor. CANSA can support young people diagnosed with cancer to cope and understand the disease, diagnoses, treatment, and challenging psychosocial experiences during treatment and beyond.”
The launch of CANSA Free2Bme marks an exciting milestone for CANSA as it strengthens its mission to promote awareness, education, and support for those affected by cancer.
This project symbolises the organisation’s dedication to fostering a sense of empowerment and resilience among AYA individuals, enabling them to embrace their uniqueness and thrive beyond their diagnoses.
Adolescents (teens) and young adults facing cancer, their caregivers, and the professionals who treat them can get more information about CANSA Free2Bme and CANSA’s ongoing efforts to support AYA facing cancer on the CANSA website.
(For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email email@example.com – call 011 616 7662 or mobile 082 459 5230.)
CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. CANSA is a leading role-player in cancer research and the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes, as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our health programmes comprise health and education campaigns; CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those affected by cancer; stoma and other clinical support; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support. We offer a Tele Counselling service in seven languages free of charge. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 8 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.
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