Can you think of a more turbulent time in a person’s life than adolescence?
Now imagine you are a teenager diagnosed with cancer.
Getting that diagnosis is bad enough, but then having to be treated in facilities geared either toward children or older people can really throw you for a loop.
But fortunately, help will soon be available from a seemingly unlikely source- The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.
The rock icons will be opening a new UCLA Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program next year. The center is modeled after 19 centers opened in the UK by The Who’s charity, Who Cares, in conjunction with the organization Teenage Cancer Trust. The band has raised more than $15 million dollars for the organization through annual concerts which feature performers such as Coldplay and Eric Clapton.
Daltrey first became interested in helping this effort in 2000, when Teenage Cancer Trust’s co-founders, Dr. Adrian Whiteson and his wife Myrna, told him that although cancer survival rates for kids and adults in the UK had improved, rates for teens had not. As teenagers were The Who’s core fans when they were first starting out, Daltrey felt he had to do something to help.
At a time when your body is changing, your social life is everything and you’re still trying to figure out who you are, getting cancer can seem like an impossible blow to take. But thanks to Teenage Cancer Trust, thousands of teenagers are taking it, and coming out fighting.
The new center will be set up more like a dorm than a hospital, with an entertainment lounge, a kitchen and six bedrooms for patients between the ages of 13 and 25.
Over the years I have met many young people with cancer and like Teenage Cancer Trust, I believe that they shouldn’t have to stop being teenagers just because they have this disease. They have helped me understand that they are young people first – cancer patients second and I am always struck by their enthusiasm, positivism and their lust for life. Rodger Daltrey, 2009
Here’s a little more about the center:
The most common types of cancer seen in adolescents and young adults are lymphoma, leukemia, germ cell tumors (including testicular cancer), melanoma, central nervous system tumors, sarcomas, and breast, cervical, liver, thyroid and colorectal cancers.
Unlike both younger and older age groups, Adolescent and Young Adults (AYAs) have experienced little improvement in survival over the last two decades*. Several factors may account for the lack of improved outcomes, including:
*US Department of Health and Human Services
Because cancer is relatively rare in teens and young adults, feeling alone, isolated and lonely is common for these patients and survivors.
There are a number of organizations that can offer information and support to AYA’s: