Young adult cancer patients find help and hope with Adolescent and Young Adult Program

Georgia Wilson, 24, remembers the first time she shared her own cancer experience to help someone else. She was sitting in the lobby of MD Anderson’s Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic and traded numbers with another patient. She called her the next day, and they’ve been friends ever since. Wilson, an osteosarcoma survivor, says it was that moment last year when she realized she wanted to become an oncologist, and MD Anderson is helping her get there. The Adolescent and Young Adult Program not only runs the clinic, it also offers a range of support services, a scholarship fund, and opportunities to meet people who understand how lonely and isolating cancer can be for young adults. “MD Anderson provided me with a community of friends, nurses and doctors who influenced the way I’ll approach medicine in my future practice,” says Wilson, who learned she’d been accepted into medical school last spring while she was in the hospital surrounded by her care team. Serving young cancer patients’ needs, from fertility to psychosocial support “Our approach is to tailor supportive care services to their needs, whether that’s vocational counseling, oncofertility or genetic testing,” says Michael Roth, M.D. He and Andy Livingston, M.D., are the co-directors of the program. In its first year, the clinic has seen more than 500 patients, and demand is growing. The clinic team sees patients ages 15 to 39 with a current or prior cancer diagnosis. Patients get the clinic’s support in addition to the cancer treatment led by their primary care team. Patients can request a referral to the program from their care team at any...