By Erin Price Schabert and Kiersten Gallagher, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts
Mar 1, 2017
“You won’t understand the unabashed power of a community until you are in one.” – Author Jon Acuff
There is power in community — a strength that comes with standing together with others in unity — a shared sense of purpose and vision. Many groups come together naturally: families, neighborhoods, schools, or sports teams. Other times finding your community — your people — can be a bit harder.
What happens if you do not have a community? What happens when you are thrust into a situation where you feel utterly alone and have no control? This is the situation many young adults find themselves in when they are diagnosed with cancer. Each year in the United States approximately 70,000 young adults, ages 15 to 39 years old, find themselves feeling very alone when they receive a cancer diagnosis.
Imagine being in what many consider the “prime of your life” and hearing the words “you have cancer.” Imagine having to take time off from your life so that you can accommodate your new cancer treatment schedule of doctor’s appointments, diagnostic tests, chemotherapy infusions, hospitalizations, radiation, immunotherapy, or surgery. Imagine watching all of your friends continue on with their lives as they graduate, advance their career, date, get married, have children, or buy their first home. Imagine having a huge stack of medical bills to pay when you have an entry level job and student loans to pay off. As everyone else’s life moves forward, you stand still. The sense of unfairness and isolation can be consuming.