Mar 13, 2018 12:00 PM

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For many people, young adulthood is a time of exploring and forming their identity. Young adults are often completing their education, establishing a career, and developing intimate relationships. People at this stage in life do not expect to be taking care of a loved one with cancer. Yet about 1.46 million young adults in the United States find themselves in that very situation.

When a young adult takes care of a partner, family member, or close friend with cancer, they may have to put aside current activities and future goals. Taking care of a cancer patient can be difficult, especially with the responsibilities that many young adults have—like parenting young kids or starting a dream job. Taking care of a cancer patient can sometimes lead to fear of abandonment, uncertainty, and loss. It can also threaten financial stability.

Young adults who feel supported by those around them can be protected from some of the negative aspects of caregiving. Many people use social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to interact with their social networks—the group of family members, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers a person is connected to. A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows more than 97% of young adults in the United States use social media in their everyday lives to maintain and build relationships, share information, and get answers to health questions.

Using social media might help young adults who take care of a cancer patient. The Young Adult Cancer Caregiver (YACC) study asks how social media may help or hinder a young adult when they start taking care of a cancer patient.  

The YACC study is currently recruiting participants. If you are 18–39 years old and you help take care of a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with cancer in the last five years, you may be eligible for the study. Please contact Austin Waters to get involved.

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