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Targeting Cancer: Support for young survivors

Targeting Cancer

Learning you have cancer is difficult to hear at any age, but the struggles of living with the disease can look different to younger survivors.

Unfortunately, when it comes to local cancer support groups, there’s not much available that’s designed for men and women specifically in their 20s and 30s. A Eugene woman is working to change that.

Hannah Bean was 25 years old when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She received six rounds of chemo, which were complicated when Hannah was hospitalized with an infection.

“It took a while. It was hard,” she says.

Despite encouragement from friends and family that she might find comfort by attending a support group, Hannah wasn’t ready.

“I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to go from point A to point B and then it would be done. There would be no lasting side effects, there’d be no lasting anything. But I didn’t know what a mental toll that was taking on me,” Hannah admits.

When Hannah finally reached out, she connected with a national group called First Descents—and quickly realized the power of community.

“The first day we went white water rafting and the second day we went kayaking,” Hannah says. “And between those events, and during those events, we talked about the one thing we all had in common: cancer. And the fact that we were all young adults, both males and females, with different kinds of cancer.”

Since her experience with First Descents, Hannah has gone skiing on Mount Hood with a group called Athletes for Cancer, and sailing around the Discovery Islands off the coast of British Columbia with the support organization Survive and Thrive. Now, three years into remission, Hannah has started a local support group for young cancer survivors—who often face difficult issues during and after treatment.

“Fertility is a big one. Job loss, the worry that spending long periods of time, or any period of time, in the hospital could easily effect your job.”

Hannah’s hope is that through her support group, other young survivors will come to experience what she’s learned—how good life can be, despite cancer.

Hannah’s local support group is designed for cancer survivors, men and women, ages 18-39. While it won’t be quite as adventurous as the excursions she experienced through other support groups, those involved will be invited to participate in local activities as they create a support network for each other.

If you are interested in attending the support group, email hjbean@gmail.com.

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