Magnifying glass showing the word cancer on a newspaper.
Seeking to improve the conditions of cancer patients. Photo: Pixabay.

Cactus Cancer Society, closing the gap of care for patients

The organization presents the first education program for health professionals with which it seeks to improve the conditions of cancer patients.


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Cactus Cancer Society, the first virtual community created by and for young adults facing cancer, recently announced the launch of The Full Picture of AYA Cancer, the first comprehensive continuing education course for healthcare professionals focused on meeting the unique needs of young adults with cancer, survivors and caregivers.

Highlighting known data in oncology indicating that cancer survival declines after age 18 and increases after age 39, Mallory Casperson, co-founder and CEO of the Cactus Cancer Society, noted:

The survival rate for this specific age group hasn’t changed since the Nixon era.

Expert Advice

Cactus Cancer Society, in collaboration with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), presents this special program featuring expert guests and live, interactive workshops that allow healthcare professionals to earn credits from free continuing education.

The six-part online series will be available Nov. 14-22, 2022, offering attendees the opportunity to bridge the information gap surrounding adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer.

Sessions include:

  • Why AYAs are Unique
  • Sexuality and Contraception for AYAs
  • Fertility Preservation for AYAs
  • AYA Survivorship Care and Survivorship Care Plans (SCPs)
  • The Emotional Impact of Cancer on AYAs
  • Resources for AYAs with Cancer

Closing the Gap in Knowledge and Care

According to data from the Cactus Cancer Society, more than 90,000 young adults, ages 18-39, are diagnosed with cancer each year, a community historically largely overlooked in research studies and by health care institutions.

The higher prevalence of the disease in this age group motivated the organization to direct its efforts towards this segment, highlighting that only 1% of cancer research focuses on the needs of AYAs, who have the potential to suffer long-term effects from their diagnosis and treatment, including infertility, sexual dysfunction, heart problems, and future cancers.

“Disparities continue to exist for this unique population, including a lack of research, education for healthcare professionals, and access to healthcare for young adult cancer survivors. We aim to make change by resetting this traditional mindset and bringing awareness to the unique challenges these courageous young adults face and improving their long-term quality of life. It’s time to close the gap!” underlined Casperson.


The series will be moderated by acclaimed author Dr. Anne Katz, a sexuality counselor, nurse, and host of Cactus Cancer Society's “Awkward Auntie,” where she answers questions about sex, relationships, and everything that happens to the body during and after cancer treatment.

Another one of the continuing education programs for health professionals offered by this important alliance between the two organizations is Nourish, Nurture & Renew: A Roadmap from Burnout to Self-Care.

This initiative offers creative activities to help patients cope with the treatment of their disease, which include diaries, art workshops and book clubs, yoga sessions, meditation, LGBTQIA+ programs, wellness events, meetings, research focus groups, and more.

Also this December, the Cactus Cancer Society will host the annual YA Cancer Gabfest, a week-long online survival conference for young adults facing cancer.

“A cancer diagnosis is difficult at any age, but these young patients are typically at a stage in life where they’re advancing their education, forging independence, or starting a career or family of their own. A unique skill set is required to deliver high-quality support and care to these young adults, and our hope is that this program will educate and encourage current and future care providers to bring new knowledge to their professions – ultimately reshaping healthcare to work better for the AYA community,” stated Lauren Creel, MSW, MPH, a social worker and COO of Cactus Cancer Society.

About Cactus Cancer Society

Created in 2015, this nonprofit organization, a leader in online support programs and resources for cancer wellness and survivorship, develops programs that help end the isolation of young adult cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

It offers a full spectrum of free and innovative online access to psychosocial survival support through a lifestyle-friendly medium for the 18-45 age group. All programs and resources are delivered directly through the Cactus Cancer Society website or via Zoom, and are uniquely accessible regardless of specific diagnosis, geographic location, financial situation, or inpatient status.

About the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS is the world leader in the fight against leukemia, working to cure lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma.

Seeking to improve the quality of life for patients and their families, this organization funds life-saving blood cancer research around the world by providing free information and support services to access coordinated, affordable, quality care.


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