Close to 72,000 teens and young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. Yet, if you look around MD Anderson or any other cancer center, you might wonder where all these young patients are.
When we asked young adult survivors what would've made their experience better, they overwhelmingly said they would've liked to have met someone like themselves.
Here are a few places young patients can go and tips you can use to find other adolescents and young adults (AYA) at MD Anderson.
Top 4 hangouts:
1. Kim's Place (Floor 2, near The Park) - Pass the time between appointments in this space just for patients, family members and friends ages 15 to 30.
Kim's Place offers free arcade games, a pool table, jukebox, basketball hoops game, comfortable couches, microwaves and a coffee machine. Across from Kim's Place is a theater room with a large screen TV, comfortable seating and computer.
2. Observation Deck (Floor 24, Elevator F, Alkek Building) - Want to see panoramic views of Houston? It's worth taking two elevators to get to our Observation Deck. This quiet retreat is full of great seating - and a piano. You may spot Ian Cion, program director of Arts in Medicine, working on art with young adult patients up here.
3. The Park (Floor 2, near Elevator D) - Natural light from the skylights give this indoor area an outdoor courtyard feel and provide a welcome retreat from the hospital room and hallways. Plus, it's close to a coffee stop, gift shop and Kim's Place.
You may also find Ian and his groups working on art. Want to join in? Just introduce yourself to Ian, and he'll get you set up. You don't have to be an artist to participate. You can also join his weekly young adult art group on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m. in the pediatric classroom.
4. Integrative Medicine Center (Just outside Clark Clinic entrance) - A little off the beaten path, this spot offers free yoga classes, cooking classes, meditation, music therapy, pilates and other great services that can help improve your well-being. View the class schedule online or pick up a schedule at the information desk.
With a referral from your oncologist, you can sign up for an acupuncture session or massage therapy session. (Note: there may be fees associated with these services.) Group programs also are offered through the center at Mays Clinic, Floor 2, near the Learning Center and gift shop.
- Stay connected - Don't forget your laptop, tablet, etc., and remember your chargers. If you do forget yours, we have a multimedia loaner program that checks out tablets to inpatients on the pediatric floor while they are at the hospital. Ask a child life specialist if you're interested in checking out a tablet. You'll also find computers at MD Anderson's two Learning Centers.
- Meet Elsa - Wondering what's going on with your peers? Ask to meet our young adult life specialist, Elsa Morse. She visits with patients ages 18 to 25 every day and can tell you what's going on around the hospital.
- Bring a jacket - If you have to wait around between tests and appointments, the hospital can get cold. So, bring a blanket or jacket to.
- Contact Anderson Network - The Anderson Network connects current patients and caregivers with survivors who had a similar diagnosis or treatment. In addition, its Cancer180 program provides a social environment for young adults to meet through outings and events.
- Go online - Follow our Young Cancer Connection and Cancer180 Facebook pages to keep up with the latest events and information relevant to you.
- Make your voice heard - Have ideas and feedback on how to improve the experience for AYA patients? Our Patient Advisory Council for Teens (imPACT) and a Young Adult Advisory Council meet regularly to work with staff on programs and topics related to AYAs. Contact Lauren Shinn (imPACT) or Sujin Ann-Yi (Young Adult Advisory Council) if you are interested in attending a meeting or joining a council.