Teens and young adults often ignore subtle changes in their normal health—those nagging things that “just don’t feel right”, or ongoing fatigue that people blame on just being too busy—giving an undiagnosed cancer time to grow unchecked. There are 72,000 new cases of cancer among young adults aged 15-40 annually – that means that every hour of the day in this country 8 adolescents and young adults are learning that they have cancer. The incidence of cancer is rising, but much more alarming is that fact that while overall cancer survival rates have dramatically improved in children and older adults in the past 36 years, survival rates for this age group have been nearly stagnant. Cancer is almost three times more common in this age group than in children younger than 15 and has become the most frequent cause of death due to disease.
Without early detection—because people ignore symptoms or claim they’re too busy to get to the doctor–more cancers among this age group are diagnosed at late stages. That’s when cancers are most difficult to treat—and halt.
The 15-40 Connection was founded to promote cancer awareness and to provide teens and young adults with the life-saving advantage of early detection. We strive to educate teens and young adults to take action when they notice changes in their normal health and to be strong self-advocates when their instincts tell them something is wrong. This will save lives and improve cancer survival rates.
At the 15-40 Connection we are in essence affecting a “culture shift.” Young people learn that they are not invincible and that they need to value and protect their health through individual responsibility and by recognizing the subtle symptoms of illness, comprehending potential lifestyle risk factors, and learning to communicate personal health information clearly and accurately (even when it may be embarrassing). While our goal is to improve survival rates for teens and young adults, this awareness is important for a lifetime.
One of the most powerful strategies we have at the 15-40 Connection is to build awareness and motivate action through peer-to-peer education and leadership. We are continually adding to our Speakers Bureau with tremendous individuals who generously share their own stories of early detection and self-advocacy with grace, candor and sometimes humor. Through face-to-face presentations, community-based enterprises, social media efforts and student-run initiatives on high school and college campuses, we aim to give teenagers and young adults the benefit of early detection.
Please visit our website, http://www.15-40.org, to learn more and get involved!
We know we can make a difference.