Cactus Cancer Society Advocates New Standard of Support for Understudied and Underserved Young Adults Facing Cancer

Launch of first-of-its-kind continuing education program for healthcare professionals aims to close the gap in services and care for Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer patients

SAN FRANCISCO--()--Cactus Cancer Society, the first virtual community built by and for young adults facing cancer, today announced the launch of The Full Picture of AYA Cancer, the first-ever comprehensive continuing education course available for healthcare professionals to learn how to meet the unique needs of young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.

In collaboration with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Cactus Cancer Society will present the six-part online series from September 14 through November 22, 2022. The program features expert guests and live interactive workshops, providing free continuing education credits for healthcare practitioners wanting to bridge the knowledge gap surrounding young adults 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

“The survival rate for this specific age group hasn’t changed since the Nixon era,” said Mallory Casperson, co-founder and CEO of Cactus Cancer Society, referencing known data in oncology that cancer survivorship declines after age 18 and improves after age 39. “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!”

Each year, more than 90,000 young adults (ages 18-39) are diagnosed with cancer, dramatically altering the future they had once planned. Recent studies on young adults with cancer found quality of life, social functioning, mental health, finances, body image, work plans, romantic relationships, and plans for having children were all negatively impacted because of their cancer diagnoses. In addition to a higher prevalence of aggressive disease in this age group, AYA patients have the potential for long-term effects from their diagnosis and treatment, including infertility, sexual dysfunction, heart problems, and future cancers. With less than 1% of cancer research being focused on the needs of AYAs, these patients have historically been largely ignored in research studies and by healthcare institutions.

The series is moderated by acclaimed author Dr. Anne Katz, a sexuality counselor, nurse, and host of Cactus Cancer Society’s Awkward Auntie program, where she answers questions about sex, relationships, and all things that happen to the body during and after cancer treatment.

“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,” said Lauren Creel, MSW, MPH, a social worker and COO of Cactus Cancer Society. “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.”

In addition to The Full Picture of AYA Cancer, Cactus Cancer Society and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society collaborate to conduct a continuing education program for healthcare professionals entitled Nourish, Nurture & Renew: A Roadmap from Burnout to Self-Care. Cactus Cancer Society’s core ongoing creative coping programs for young adults facing cancer range from journaling, art workshops, and book clubs, to yoga, meditation, LGBTQIA+ programs, wellness events, hangouts, focus groups for research, and more. This December, Cactus Cancer Society will host the annual YA Cancer Gabfest, a week-long online survivorship conference for young adults facing cancer.

About Cactus Cancer Society

Cactus Cancer Society, a nonprofit organization helping to end isolation for young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers, is a leader in online wellness and cancer survivorship support programs and resources — see video. The first virtual community built by and for young adults facing cancer, Cactus Cancer Society provides a full spectrum of free, ground-breaking online access to psychosocial survivorship support through a medium that fits the 18-45 age group lifestyle. All programs and resources are delivered directly through the Cactus Cancer Society website or via Zoom and are uniquely accessible regardless of a patient’s specific diagnosis, geographic location, financial situation, or inpatient status. Since its inception in 2015, Cactus Cancer Society (formerly Lacuna Loft) has provided a safe space where young adults facing cancer can connect, cope, and thrive with one another through creativity and expression in an online community that enables resilience, courage, and fortitude. Learn more at and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is a global leader in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care. Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has regions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.


Laurie Peters
(818) 635-4101

Release Summary

Cactus Cancer Society launches first-ever Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer patient continuing education program for healthcare professionals.


Laurie Peters
(818) 635-4101