The adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivor network is slowly starting to build steam as more and more people begin to recognize the special needs of this demographic. AYA’s not only face a cancer diagnosis at a young age, but as a result, they may also struggle with late-effects of their treatment including infertility, heart problems, and psychological trauma. Stemming from the need to address these concerns, AYA groups have started to pop up all over the country providing a supportive gathering space, whether online or in person, for young cancer survivors to meet other people who may share a similar experience.
Arising from the need to connect young cancer survivors with one another, nature, and themselves, sprang True North Treks (TNT). We wrote about TNT in an earlier blog, but for those of you who don’t know, I’ll give you a little recap of what this great organization is all about. TNT is an organization that supports AYA’s by taking them on short term treks in nature that focus on learning mindful awareness practices, connection to other survivors, and the beauty and balance of the great outdoors. TNT believes that this is “good medicine, especially for those who find themselves in transition after cancer treatment.”
One of the great things about TNT is that they are a group totally equipped to deal with the needs of young cancer survivors, specifically they’re medical needs. Some participants on past treks have only been out of treatment for a short time and still have to deal with IV’s, medication, and fatigue. The trek leaders have the experience and proper equipment to ensure that almost any survivor can participate on one of their treks. These are not expeditions designed to push survivors to their physical limits, but rather they are excursions for the soul and the spirit.
An upcoming event that True North Treks is co-sponsoring for AYA’s is the 1st Annual Chicago SUP YACS Classic (Stand-Up Paddleboard and race, ride, and glide for Young Adult Cancer Survivors). This event is taking place on July 29th in Chicago, IL, at Montrose Beach and is open to the public. If like me, you have never been on a paddleboard in your life, but think it sounds cool, there is a stand-up paddleboard clinic (a SUP 101 if you will) that newbies can take part in near the race start. There is a small registration fee, which will go toward programming for young adults with cancer. There is nothing like Chicago in the summer (told from a true Chicagoan) and no better feeling than knowing you are doing something that will benefit so many fantastic young survivors!