Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) oncology encompasses people ages 15-39 who are diagnosed with cancer.

While we have a general appreciation for the physical side effects of cancer treatment, AYA cancer comes with a variety of issues that our older patients simply don’t face.

From the career & financial interruptions, a young professional can experience to the social implications of being known as “that cancer survivor,” our young patients face a tremendous amount of challenges in addition to their cancer diagnosis.

Rosalina is co-host of Too Young For This Shit Podcast, a breast cancer podcast for women under 40.  In their insightful & vulnerable episodes, they recount their own journeys with AYA breast cancer.  Now in season 2, they have cultivated a community for women experiencing the same diagnosis, something Rosalina notes she never had during her treatment journey.

“Cancer is a disease of the old”

Let’s call out this bullshit right away.

Yes, cancer tends to affect mostly older individuals.  HOWEVER:

Younger patients with cancer can often have more aggressive & even rarer diagnoses that require more extensive & aggressive treatment.  These aggressive treatments can cause significant long-term side effects that affect patients physically, but also financially, psychologically, & beyond.

Common Issues Unique to AYA Survivors

In our interview, Rosalina really dives into these challenges, including how expensive IVF can be (even with great insurance), making friends as a young survivor, navigating shifting family dynamics (from independent young adult to a patient needing care), & more.

Some of the topics we discussed include:

  • Fertility loss/complications
  • Financial toxicity
  • Career interruptions
  • Hot flashes, low libido
  • Social challenges

Even though treatment is finished, you’re still not done

Even though Rosalina is celebrating her 1 year anniversary of finishing treatment, she’s still dealing with side effects & complications from her initial treatment.  Rosalina pulls back the curtain on what she’s experiencing & how she’s navigating it all as a busy young professional.

Rosalina’s recommendations for OncoPTs

Customize your sessions for your patients.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it still doesn’t happen enough.  Using questionnaires that ask about age-appropriate concerns & impairments.  Don’t just use standard geriatric measures.

Get more of Too Young for This Shit Podcast

Subscribe to Too Young for This Shit Podcast.

Watch Rosalina & Shauna on The Kelly Clarkson Show:

Breast Cancer Survivors Host Podcast To Empower Young Women Battling Cancer

Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT. And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.

“Physically, I look fine, but she had to remember that I also had breast cancer” -Rosalina

“I want them to know me for who I am & how they perceived my personality, because I do have a fucking personality, I’m not known as just a cancer survivor.” -Rosalina

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