Last week I got to spend some time in New York City. On Thursday, I had the privilege of speaking at Columbia University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program’s PsychoSocial dynamics of Disability Class. I have spoken at many physical therapy programs, but this time would be different. This time, I brought two other young adult survivors with me. We are all young Filipino Americans “re-entering” the world as young survivors each at different stages of our survivorship. Normally, I speak to classes by myself about my story, but it was nice to step out of the spotlight. Jenn and Ligaya did a great job answering questions and telling their stories. We had very unique discussions because we are all at different stages of our recovery. We felt very comfortable answering ALL questions and challenged the students to ask us ANYTHING. That statement lead to some very “interesting” discussions. I was the senior member of the presentation at 5 years out. I think having male and female perspectives on survivorhip were interesting to students and hopefully made them realize young people can and do get diagnosed with cancer and tumors.
Our friend Zac met up with us later that night and we all crashed in a tiny New York hotel room for the I’m Too Young For This, OMG Summit for Young Adult Survivors. I was sooooo excited to meet other young adult survivors because we are very difficult to find! It was great meeting many of my Facebook friends for the first time in person at the summit! It was even more fun to reconnect with friends I’ve met on this crazy brain tumor ride! Young Adult Survivors have a hard time finding peers who understand our unique issues such as fertility preservation, employment/education issues, and relationships. I feel very fortunate to have a strong support system of family and friends, but to meet new friends close in age that can empathize with our unique situation was very empowering. It was actually nice to be a participant and not a presenter at this event. I can honestly say I’ve never been to an event like it! I’m close to the twilight of my young adulthood, but I feel confident that the young adult survivor will know where to turn for support! Participants at the OMG! Summit definitely got the tools they need to “THRIVE” after an intimidating tumor/cancer diagnosis.