At age 36, Laura Holmes Haddad had several roles. She was a cookbook editor, a freelance writer, a wife, and the mother of a daughter and newborn son. At age 37, she assumed another unanticipated role when she was diagnosed with cancer. That last role would redefine all of the others and come to dominate Haddad’s life as she battled the stage IV inflammatory breast cancer with which she was diagnosed.
Today, at age 43, Holmes Haddad embraces yet another role: cancer survivor. As a featured speaker at the upcoming ACCC 36th National Oncology Conference, Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Florida, Holmes Haddad will discuss the experience of being diagnosed with cancer at an age that many adults consider to be their “prime time,” during which they build careers, homes, and families. Holmes Haddad says that people in this phase of life experience cancer differently than do older adults, who account for the largest number of patients diagnosed with cancer.
“We are at a point in our lives in which we don’t expect a major health crisis,” explains Holmes Haddad. “The ripple effects of our diagnosis and treatment are profound. Unlike other age groups, we are more likely to be the touchstone for everyone else in our lives—our children, our spouses, and sometimes our parents. Our cancer affects everyone around us, so we need specific support.”
Given the success of new therapies in cancer treatment, Holmes Haddad is part of a growing demographic of young cancer survivors who are approaching their cancer journeys differently. She says the biggest gap in her treatment was adequate support for her psychosocial needs, particularly in regard to her role as a parent dealing with a potentially terminal diagnosis. “We didn’t know until much later on that there are retreats for the children of parents with cancer,” says Holmes Haddad. “Once we knew about them, they were so important in helping my daughter cope with her feelings.”
Holmes Haddad adds that her survivorship care did not adequately take into account her continuing needs as a 40-something woman. “The survivorship aspect of my care was brushed over,” says Holmes Haddad. “It was couched as ‘You’re done; live your life!’ But survivorship is another distinct phase of cancer. In addition to long-term clinical care, it can involve financial concerns, career changes, and PTSD, which can manifest after treatment has ended. We are left to sort these things out on our own.”
Find out how your cancer program can best address the needs of your younger adult patients when Laura Holmes Haddad presents The Changing Face of the Cancer Patient Experience: Challenges & Opportunities in Oncology Care for 30-50 Year-Old Cancer Patients at the ACCC 36th National Oncology Conference, Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Florida. Learn more and register today.