Young People Give Me Hope

Young People Give Me Hope

I’m 51. That puts me firmly in “middle age” territory. And that’s a strange place to be for a follicular lymphoma (FL) patient. I was diagnosed at 40. Most people receive their FL diagnosis in their 60s. So, in that sense, I’m pretty young.

But then some people make me feel old. And I admire them for it.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting a lot of young health advocates. They work hard to educate others about their disease, provide support, and fight for awareness. I’ve met some older advocates, too, but the young ones are special. They’re the ones who really give me hope. I see their energy and their creativity. I see the ways they have used technology to spread their message. Many of them were diagnosed with cancer in their 20s. And they turned that horrible experience into something amazing. They are fearless.

I’ve met Radiant Racheli, who documented her journey with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on YouTube. If you’re a long-time reader of Lymphoma News Today, you might have read her column. If you haven’t, do it now. You’ll never meet anyone who spreads hope and positivity like Racheli does.

Then there’s Kyle, diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 27. As a professional in the film industry, he turned his talents into an awareness campaign. On the 15th of every month, he produces a new, funny, beautiful video reminding people to do their monthly self-checks for cancer.

And Justin, another testicular cancer survivor and advocate, uses his blog (and other social media) to promote conversation about cancer, men’s health, and mental health issues. They aren’t easy conversations to have, but he makes sure that people understand how important it is to have them.

(Kyle and Justin both won WEGO Health Awards this year for their amazing work.)

And there’s Ben, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 18. Then again at 20. And again at 22. He saw how few resources there were for young people, so he started a nonprofit that helps young cancer survivors get back on their feet.

As I said, I’ve had the privilege of meeting these young people personally. And there are so many others that I haven’t met, but whose work I admire. There’s Michelle, also a columnist for Lymphoma News Today, who shows us what it means to have courage. And Charlotte, who was diagnosed with lymphoma at 26. She decided that young people needed more education about the disease, so she started a nonprofit to give it to them. And Katie, diagnosed with leukemia at 22, who shares her story online and who, among her many other accomplishments, is a trustee for an organization that helps cancer patients with transportation problems.

And there are so many others.

It’s hard not to be inspired by people like this. They have all heard those words, “You have cancer,” and used the experience to try to make a change in the world.

It’s easy to underestimate young people. But they have so much to teach us “old” folks.

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Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.

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Bob McEachern is a Follicular Lymphoma patient and advocate. He was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma, a slow-growing but incurable blood cancer, in 2008. Since then, he has used his blog, Lympho Bob, to bring information and hope to other FL patients. A writing teacher and married father of three, he enjoys gardening, music, and travel.

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