Support group for young adults fighting cancer

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– There is support for young adults diagnosed with cancer. The fight against cancer takes on a different twist for patients in the prime of their lives.

A remarkable group of young adults invited News 8′s Jocelyn Maminta to get a glimpse of what they say has become a lifeline for survival. Once a month they gather to share their innermost feelings. This is IMPACT, a young adult cancer support group, at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

“I’m going to challenge you a little bit today and I want you to think about the positives. So what are the strengths, what have you gained from this cancer experience,” said Co-Facilitator, Angela Khairallah.

Nicole Potter, a 24-years old with Acute Promyelocytic Leukeumia is first to speak up.

“You definitely get a new outlook on life, so you kinda don’t sweat the small things as much, so you break a nail, you’re going to live,” said Potter.

Keeping it real is what this tight knit group is all about.

“They are at a very critical time in their life when many of them are either going to school, starting careers, getting married, thinking about family, being aware that those are sensitive issues that they are likely to want to talk about,” said Lisa Barbarotta, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

Jaime DeClement was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer at 35-years-old. She saw the need for it after a Grand Canyon trip with other cancer survivors.

“Cancer is just a comma, I am so much more than my cancer diagnosis,” said DeClement. “I didn’t think I needed a support group but being around other young adults, it was amazing to just have that level of understanding.

34-year-old Jennifer Blair is a cervical and thyroid cancer patient.

“Sometimes people in my life don’t understand if I’m anxious or if I’m sad about things. They care and they love but they don’t understand so I really just wanted to meet some people that would,” said Blair.

Todd Massari, recovering from a bone marrow transplant for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, is 26-years-old.

“I’m still going through a lot of tough stuff with where my treatment timeline is at and my recovery from transplant and I have noticed that its been a lot easier for me psychologically in the last few months, having this regular support here,” said Massari.

It’s in this safe haven where they have found what was missing in their fight against cancer.

They also text, Facebook and eat out together. Jaime is also organizing the group’s participation in this year’s Closer to Free Ride, benefiting Smilow Saturday, September 6th. For more information on how you can donate or sign up for the ride, go to rideclosertofree.org.

Jaime says she’s determined to finish the 100 mile route no matter how long it takes.

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