MD Anderson hangouts for adolescent and young adult cancer patients
Thousands of patients ages 15 to 39 receive cancer treatment at MD Anderson each year, but a cancer diagnosis can feel especially lonely for younger patients and survivors who don’t often have an opportunity to connect with each other. That’s where MD Anderson’sAdolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program comes in. It gives patients and survivors a way to connect with others like themselves more than ever before, virtually and in person.
Wendy Griffith, program manager for the AYA Program, weighs in on the top MD Anderson hangouts and tips for adolescent and young adult patients and caregivers.
Top MD Anderson hangouts for AYA patients:
1. Kim's Place (Main Building, Floor 2, The Park) – Created specifically for adolescent and young adult patients and their guests, Kim's Place offers video games, a pool table, jukebox and snacks for ages 15-30. Across from Kim's Place is a theater room with a large screen TV, comfortable seating and computers.
Hours vary daily, depending on staff availability. Be sure to call 713-563-3075 before you plan to arrive.
2. Observation Deck (Main Building, Floor 24, near Elevator F) – If you’re looking for a quiet spot and a great view, the Observation Deck is a favorite for patients and visitors. There are plenty of places to sit, as well as desks with power outlets. A grand piano played by volunteers creates a relaxing ambiance.
3. The Park (Main Building, Floor 2, near Elevator D) – This indoor area is full of natural sunlight, thanks to skylights. The Park is also home to a coffee shop, gift shop and Kim’s Place.
You may spot Zach Gresham, who leads our Arts in Medicine program, working on art here with patients and caregivers. If you’re interested in joining in, let him know and he’ll get youset up.
4. AYA Clinic (Main Building, Floor 7, between elevator C and D) – This is a quiet place off the beaten path to hang out if you need a moment for yourself. AYA Program staff run the clinic and understand how lonely and isolating cancer can be for young adults. The clinic offers access to fertility support, survivorship care, vocational counseling and mental health counseling.
Patients can request a referral to the program from their care team at any time – right after their diagnosis, during treatment, after treatment or even in long-term survivorship.
“Their oncologists treat their cancer, and we try to help with everything else,” says Griffith.
5. The Chapels - Maintaining spiritual well-being during cancer treatment is important to many patients and caregivers. MD Anderson offers regular worship services and pastoral support to patients and their families. Our chapels and prayer rooms are open to anyone seeking solace through prayer and meditation, or just a quiet space to process emotions. View the worship schedule and chapel locations online.
Connect with other patients and caregivers – Many AYA patients find connection in the private MD Anderson Adolescent and Young Adult Program Facebook group or myCancerConnection, MD Anderson’s one-on-one cancer support community. You can also check out the AYA social events calendar shows what in-person and virtual events are coming up, like cooking classes, book club or Netflix parties.
“We try to connect our patients with all of the services that can help them, but also with each other,” explains Griffith. “People find comfort from hearing others share their stories.”
Learn your way around - Wondering what’s going on around the hospital? The AYA Program has a dedicated patient navigator named Janae Harris who connects adolescent and young adult patients with the services they’re looking for. To get in touch, email AYA@MDAnderson.org.
Check out the Integrative Medicine Center – Many AYA patients seek out classes and clinical services offered at MD Anderson’sIntegrative Medicine Center. Located just outside the Clark Clinic entrance, the center offers online group exercise and cooking classes, meditation, music therapy, and other services that can help improve your well-being. View the class schedule online.
If you’re interested in acupuncture or massage therapy, ask your oncologist for a referral. (Note: there may be fees associated with these services.)
The Integrative Medicine Center business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Patients can contact them at 713-794-4700.
Pack accordingly - It can get chilly inside the hospital, so bring a jacket or sweater to your appointments. And bring your devices, headphones and chargers to stay connected to friends and family while you’re here.
There are 85 device charging stations in clinical areas around the institution to help patients, caregivers and physicians stay more connected and plugged in. The charging stations were made possible by an initial $65,000 gift from the The WWWW Foundation Inc., also known as QuadW, established in memory of William Evans “Willie” Tichenor, an MD Anderson patient who passed away in 2006 at age 19. Charging stations are also available in The Learning Center patient libraries.
Make your voice heard - MD Anderson’s Patient Advisory Council for Teens (imPACT) and the Young Adult Advisory Council meet regularly to work with staff on programs and topics related to AYA cancer patients. If you have feedback on how to improve the experience for AYA patients, email the AYA Program for more information.