Cancer: a disease of isolation

Anthony Abbondanza
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Pointe Claire charitable organization helps adolescents and young adults fight isolation caused by cancer

Since 2001, VOBOC has touched the lives of over 8,000 patients by providing tools and resources free of charge to AYA oncology patients treated at McGill University affiliated hospitals.

What would you say if a stranger approached you on the street with news of his or her cancer?

Better yet, what if that stranger is a young adolescent –their entire life hung in the balance?

As part of its recently-launched ‘The Announcement’ campaign, Venturing Out Beyond Cancer (VOBOC) conducted that scenario using hidden cameras on the streets of Montreal. The non-profit organization uploaded a short-feature video on its website and YouTube featuring a young Montrealer address strangers of the news of his cancer diagnosis.

The result is just as shocking as the filmed reactions, which ranged from shock, rejection, awkwardness to empathy and compassion.

But for VOBOC founder and cancer survivor Doreen Edward, the reactions shared a common theme: uneasiness.

“People are always in a rush and when they aren’t, they don’t know what to say. So they’ll say ‘yes, okay’ and keep walking,” she said.

Produced by TAXI, a Montreal marketing company, the purpose of the video was not only to demonstrate the uneasiness most people display when discussing Cancer, but also bring awareness to VOBOC’s fight –namely raising awareness for what Edward called ‘the forgotten group,’ also known as adolescents and young adults.

“I think most people don’t realize that this is a Cancer population that is significantly under recognized by the public,” said Edward. 

In Canada, more than 7000 adolescent and young adults (AYA) will learn they have Cancer this year. In Montreal, 750 persons aged 15 to 39 will be diagnosed with Cancer this year –or one diagnosis per 12 hours.

“Most of these kids when they get Cancer they don’t have the leg skills to deal with. They’re totally underwhelmed when they don’t see kids their age in the oncology unit. And the thing that is most prevalent amongst this group is the feeling ‘I’m going to die. Who can help me through this?’ They don’t know who to ask for help,” said Edward.

That’s why it’s the cancer survivor’s mission to ensure AYA’s well-being in their fight against Cancer.

Since 2001, VOBOC has touched the lives of over 8,000 patients by providing tools and resources free of charge to AYA oncology patients treated at McGill University affiliated hospitals, such as the Jewish General, Lakeshore General, and others.

Specifically, VOBOC offers three free services: Vo-Pak, a backpack which contains tools and resources to help patients; the granting of special requests to patients in palliative care; and raising awareness about this overshadowed age group.

For more information on the organization or to watch the short video, visit www.voboc.org/about-us/2013-campaign/.

@AAbondanza1

 

Organizations: McGill University

Geographic location: Montreal, Pointe Claire, Canada

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