BY CATHERINE NGUYEN
Having cancer at a young age is difficult, but many young people with cancer are determined to start each day with purpose and optimism, and are an inspiration to others.
Dan, a young cancer survivor, is adamant that cancer does not define him. He says “Don’t let the way you feel some days bring your whole attitude down, think of it as a journey. This is just another journey that you have to go in in your life to learn and come out the other side better than before.” He recommends finding something that can help motivate you to get you out of bed and moving, and most importantly, having a good mind set.
Other young patients turn to blogs to make cancer public. Rosie Kilburns who was diagnosed at 16, blogs to show people how she is staying positive throughout her treatment, and has inspired some of her readers. Kristin Hallenga writes to let people know she is doing alright and to raise awareness of cancer risk in young women. Paul Nicholls uses it to get the message out about how real cancer is, and how important it is to make the most of life.
There are many movies and books that have attempted to capture the spirit of these young warriors as well:
Ways to live forever (a novel by Sally Nicholls and made into a movie in 2010) is about an 11 year old boy Sam with leukemia. Despite his terminal illness, Sam never lets his cancer define him. Instead, he makes a list of all the things he wants to do and sets out to accomplish them with his best friend Felix. He finds plenty of joy in life along the way, including kissing a girl who goes on to remember him long after he is gone.
Now is good is a movie about Tessa, a seventeenth year old girl with leukemia, who is also passionate about life. She is determined to use every moment of her life to ‘live’ as intensely as possible, including experiencing the dangerous sides of life.
Perhaps the most famous book and movie in this genre is The Fault in Our Stars about two young cancer patients. Despite their shared suffering, they persisted to find happiness and fall in love. As reviewer Horacioreyes, a cancer survivor, says of the movie, “It is an Ode for Life, it tell us that ‘We can and should have moments of infinite joy within a limited time’. It is our choice!”
There is a saying that tomorrow is promised to no one. It is up to you to make the most of your life, cancer and all.
Catherine has been volunteering with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre since 2017, and joined Solaris Cancer Care as a blog writer in early August 2020. She lost both her father and her husband to cancer, and the experiences changed her life. Catherine developed a passion for researching all matters relating to cancer during her husband’s fight, and is keen to continue building on her knowledge and using it to help others.