TCA Celebrates AYA Program at University Health System in San Antonio

Teen Cancer America recently celebrated the partnership announcement of the Adolescent and Young Adult Program as well as the opening of the new AYA lounge at University Health System in San Antonio, TX. The lounge will provide a space for AYAs to engage in activities, heal, and build community with their peers.

Led by Dr. Allison Grimes and Dr. Elizabeth Bowhay, the AYA program at San Antonio is committed to improving quality of care and outcomes for teens and young adults impacted by cancer. With the support from the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation (BHEF), there’s much excitement around what’s to come from the San Antonio.

TCA and the BHEF have pledged to make this a long term partnership. “This has been a unique charity partnership for a very special hospital whose hearts and minds are dedicated to improving the outcomes and survival of the young people from their community,” said Simon Davies, Executive Director of Teen Cancer America.

Below is a story from Alen, sharing his experience as an AYA at UHS San Antonio.

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer my junior year of high school. I was 17 years old and a cross-country runner. I had been having really bad stomach cramps for about a week and after my morning practice I went to my family doctor. Once I was called up they didn’t know what was wrong with me and sent me to the children’s ER at University Hospital. They did an ultrasound there and found a mass in my stomach.

I was in shock, so when they told me I said, “OK”. My family was crying and I didn’t know how to act because I was always the one taking care of people… and now, people would be taking care of me.

Later the next day I met the pediatric oncology team and they were amazing. There were days that I wouldn’t want to get up in the morning and some days it was hard to think about the future because my goals have changed from making varsity cross-country next year to surviving this journey. Everyday there was a fight, but the whole team of doctors, nurses, social workers and therapists made the whole journey with me through cancer.

After long and very exhausting months of chemotherapy and surgery I won the battle and went into remission. I have been cancer-free for almost two years and I am in college now majoring in business and minoring in criminal justice. I have also started training again and picked up another sport which is MMA, mixed martial arts. I now can think of the future and create new goals for my life. That’s all thanks to the great work from the pediatric oncology team at University Hospital.

It is so nice to know that there is a program that is dedicated for adolescents and young adults. The AYA is unique because the patients are unique. They are all going through a very difficult time in their lives which includes puberty, college, and the starting their careers and lives. The AYA program will be helpful to the patients because they will have help from others who are close to their point in life and understand what they are thinking. It will help them also by being surrounded with others who are going through the same changes. The AYA program will help their state-of-mind and how to handle life after their journey through cancer.