Helping Each Other Grow

Hilary Gan, Director of Hospital Programs and Services and Kara Noskoff, Hospital Programs and Services Manager discuss updates with Teen Cancer America and growth opportunities within the AYA cancer community.

Health Professional Advisory and Education Group

Teen Cancer America’s hospital and programs team has been leading an Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) health professional education group for over a year now. The group which we jokingly call “Everyone but the Doctors” is made up of nurses, social workers, program managers, coordinators, AYA life specialists, psychologists, and more. Each month, over 40 providers meet via Zoom to share with one another their experiences in developing AYA cancer programs and facilities. Each meeting, a different health professional is invited to present what their program has been working on, sharing both accomplishments and challenges. Some presentations highlight a particular issue that is common in the AYA population such as survivorship or fertility preservation. Other providers share a broader scope of their hospitals program and what they are offering to their young people as a whole. 

Building an AYA program is not easy, including all the necessary elements that makes a program all-encompassing takes time and perseverance. Roger Daltrey always says, “The best thing for a young person going through cancer is another young person” and we have found something similar with this group. Bringing health professionals together with a like passion and desire to change the health system for young people with cancer has led to the creation of a strong and supportive AYA heath professional community. This group can rely on one another’s experience and support to guide them in the process making sure equitable AYA cancer care is delivered at their individual hospitals. Alison Clayton, newly appointed AYA Program Coordinator from Stanford Cancer Institute says, “The monthly meetings with program advisors and the educational meetings have been so valuable!  It’s an amazing amount of education and I really appreciate it as a new program coordinator. Pam Simon, the AYA Cancer Program Manager and I both realize that even though we have each other, it’s great to hear from other programs too.”

The Monthly Drip

This distinctive program is open to all health professionals, yes including physicians, who also have a shared interested in the adolescent young adult cancer population. Physicians are often the key presenters in this particular program. We have been fortunate to have the “pioneers” of AYA cancer speak like Dr. Archie Bleyer as well as a multitude of physicians representing over 15 hospitals and cancer centers across the US. It is our goal to make sure that our programs represent both academic institutions and community hospitals alike as we know young people with cancer have experiences at both. These presentations have focused on the AYA and issues around social and emotional well-being as well as conversations about treatment, clinical trials, and other aspects of cancer down to the most cellular level, literally. Some of the topics we have heard about include the financial impact of cancer for AYAs, sexual health, clinical trial enrollment and more.