Noe Vega-Marin doesn’t let too much bother him, not even a lymphoma diagnosis at age 28 that changed his whole world.
“All of a sudden I have to leave my job to take care of my cancer,” the Clemson grad and civil engineer explained, this week, at the Bon Secours St. Francis Cancer center, where he’s been treated since late last year. “Once I finished my first therapy, my first chemo, I started walking within five days. It’s been great.”
Still, he couldn’t help but notice a gap between childhood cancer and adults with cancer, especially when it comes to therapy.
“I wasn’t really aware of people my age getting cancer,” he said.
Bon Secours St. Francis is looking to improve the way teens and young adults with cancer are treated. They say this age group often falls into a therapy gap between pediatric and adult cancer therapies and it’s necessary to focus more than just physical help.
“70,000 AYA patients are diagnosed each year,” Dr. Hal Crosswell, Director of the AYA Oncology program at Bon Secours St. Francis. “The older adolescent and the young adult have traditionally have been receiving fragmented care meaning that they are receiving care at multiple clinics.”
He says this transitioning age group moving into college or the workforce often comes in with limited income or no insurance.
“That is what has led to, many times, for them to have delayed diagnosis,” Crosswell explained.
He said Bon Secours and community partners are looking to establish a designated AYA treatment area. They are in talks with Teen Cancer America, the U.S. branch of a British charity founded by band members of “The Who.” They want create a space where teens and young adults can be treated and studied more effectively, but also find a needed support system.
“What we’re trying to do is we are trying to create a community of others that have been there and done that,” explained Crosswell.
They are working to make life after cancer better than it was coming into it. For Vega-Marin, he’s looking forward to the future.
“Maybe on the side I’ll be a cancer counselor,” he said, laughing.
For more on Teen Cancer America, visit: https://teencanceramerica.org/