While having cancer is difficult at whatever age you are diagnosed, the cancer experience for a young adult (defined by Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) as someone between 18-39 years) provides unique challenges due to the stage of life they are in. Not only are life priorities and goals different for someone in their teens, 20s and 30s, dealing with a cancer diagnosis at this time of life poses unique challenges as well. Some young adults have only just graduated high-school or university, still exploring career possibilities and identity. Others are navigating raising a young family alongside going to chemo treatments. Because this population is a minority in the world of cancer (making up approximately 11% of new cancers diagnosed yearly according to Canadian Cancer Society), their needs can be overlooked when designing programs and services to support people living with cancer.
InspireHealth has witnessed this firsthand and believes in creating classes and programs with opportunities for socialization, which are a priority for this population. Here at our Victoria site we have partnered with Power to Be for a pilot project bridging this gap in services. Together we have created inspiring opportunities for young adults to connect with each other and themselves through recreational activities and nature. Since our first event with Power to Be in Spring 2017 we have gone kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing and swinging through the trees at Wild Play Victoria! These free and fun programs offer participants a chance to try new things or maybe try old things with new and different abilities. At our Rock Climbing event in February one participant said “After my surgery for breast cancer I assumed I wouldn’t climb again and this was a chance to test that out, and to find out that I can still climb!”
To give the InspireHealth community a taste of these meaningful outings we wanted to share more about this rock-climbing event. The evening started with each person checking in with a time when they felt present. Being in nature emerged as a theme, people shared their mindful moments of: walking in the woods, looking at a flower, listening to the ocean, and even rock climbing. Fitting, as the power of connecting people with nature and community is at the heart of what Power to Be offers and is also integral in how InspireHealth supports patients to find opportunities for stress reduction.
As soon as we stepped into our harnesses and starting climbing, the encouragement and support was contagious, everyone working through some kind of challenge, whether physical or mental. After two hours of climbing, the evening wrapped up with a check-out, this time taking a moment to reflect on the experience. One person shared that they appreciated how these kinds of events “push me to do something that I thought I couldn’t do because of my cancer diagnosis. It feels amazing and gives me hope to go out and do stuff that I had stopped doing because of my diagnosis.”
Another emphasized why these events were important for them: “these outings offer me a sense of community with other young people, who I don’t often see in the clinic or hospital. They help me know I’m not the only one going through this.”
Power to Be staff and volunteers were awesome, providing perspective on what accomplishment is – “the goal is not to get to the top of the wall, the goal is to climb” said one staff member (Em). This sentiment aligns well with some wisdom attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “life is a journey, not a destination.”
If you are a young adult (18-40 years) and have had cancer at some point in your life come join us in Victoria for some fun! Contact InspireHealth Victoria for more details: 250-595-7125. Our next Power to Be adventures for the summer are: Kayaking- Wednesday, June 27th at 6pm, Paddle boarding- Thursday, July 19, 6pm and Sunday, September 16th at 1:30pm at Wild Play Adventure Park.
If you are a young adult in Vancouver stay tuned for opportunities as we are hoping to expand this program to our patients in the Vancouver area as well!
By Genevieve Stonebridge & Emily Medd
Genevieve Stonebridge is a clinical counsellor on the team at InspireHealth Victoria with Emily Medd who is an exercise therapist. They are both passionate about recreation and having fun just for the health of it!