As with most things Generation Y, Facebook and Starbucks served as the backdrop for Young Adult Cancer Connection’s beginnings. Here, two young adult strangers met in the winter of 2014 to discuss their only known connection: cancer (see where we got our name?). Amidst bantering about disclosure on Facebook, stamps their passports had collected, and hair loss, they both expressed disappointment over the lack of opportunities in Philadelphia for young adults affected by cancer to do exactly what they were in the process of…connect! No longer merely random Facebook friends, Cara Scharf and Dakota Fisher-Vance teamed up to help transform the city of brotherly and sisterly love into a more welcoming space for young adults with cancer experiences.
Prior to meeting Dakota, Cara had participated in young adult gatherings with a small group that originated at Jefferson Hospital, but dissipated when the social worker who started the group left. That group continued to meet sporadically for happy hours, and those meetings have transformed into Young Adult Cancer Connections’ monthly, Philadelphia-based meet ups, the first of which took place at Spruce Street Harbor Pop Up Park in August 2014. Inspired by Dana Farber’s 2014 Young Adult Cancer Conference, Cara and Dakota decided to expand their Philadelphia young adult cancer initiative to include a conference. With the support of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, Young Adult Cancer Connection hosted Philadelphia’s first conference for young adults affected by cancer, Cancervention, in the spring of 2015.
Young Adult Cancer Connection provides a rare opportunity for young adults (18-39) and their caregivers to come together and work through the issues unique to our age group, discover emotional and clinical resources, and, ultimately know that we’re not alone in our cancer experience.