WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9) -- No one expects a cancer diagnosis. But what do you do when your life is just beginning and you are hit with this tragic news?
A Bethesda based organization, Hope Connections for Cancer Support, may be an answer. The group provides educational programs, classes and support groups to help alleviate the emotional and physical pain of a cancer diagnosis.
The non-profit provides its services free of charge, and even offers support for the patients' caregivers.
Hope Connections for Cancer Support has a program specifically designed for young people with cancer. WUSA9's Anita Brikman spoke with the organization's CEO and Co-Founder, Paula Rothenberg, and a participant in the young adult support group, Julie Hahn. Hahn was diagnosed with Leukemia at 24 years old.
Anita: Julie, let's start with you. What is your diagnosis and why did you want to reach out to other young people?
Julie: I was diagnosed about three years ago with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL. I reached out to Hope Connections when I moved up here to D.C. and they graciously accepted me in there and it was a way for me to speak to other people with cancer, who are my age.
Anita: How old were you at your diagnosis?
Julie: When I originally was diagnosed I was 24. I'm now 26, almost 27. And it's a lot to handle when you're in your 20s and people don't talk about it. When I was diagnosed I didn't even know what Leukemia was.
Anita: And it can be a lonely road.
Julie: It can be. And Hope Connections they opened their doors to me and fellow young adult cancer survivors or people going through treatment. We just sat and talked in a room every month. We'd go and we'd meet and it's just a way to bounce ideas, or problems or issues that we have on a daily basis and see what other young adults do.
Anita: Let's talk about what this whole organization is about and what you guys do.
Paula: We provide free programs of emotional support, education and hope for people with all types of cancer and also for their caregivers because cancer doesn't just affect the person with cancer, but it affects your husband, your parents. So we provide support groups for both of those parties, we provide educational workshops and stress reduction programs. And we were really focused on trying to do something for the young adults with cancer because they deal with a lot of issues that don't affect older people.
Anita: And your husband benefited from this as well, you said?
Julie: Yes, he does attend the caregiver support group. They probably talk about, you know, what we go through and how they can help us.
Anita: To vent that and get rid of some of the stress and also know that you're not alone.
Anita: Ladies, thank you so much. You guys are moving to accommodate to a bigger space for all of your programs. We've got more information online at hopeconnectionsforcancer.org.