Each year, 89,500 young adults (ages 15-39) are diagnosed with cancer in the United States alone. This neglected group faces age-specific challenges - such as, infertility, loss of identity and independence, lack or loss of insurance, increased isolation, and stalled career development - with limited resources.
Stupid Cancer's mission is to empower young adults affected by cancer by ending isolation and building community.
In 1995, Stupid Cancer founder Matthew Zachary was a college senior, concert pianist, and composer. Then, at age 21, he was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer. He was told he would likely not survive six months. Matthew and his family were thrust into a cancer landscape much different than today.
In the nineties, cancer resources for young adults were few and far between, and 'surviving' meant living beyond five years. There were no AYA (Adolescent Young Adult) Cancer Programs. Although Matthew and his family were offered comfort through a small, fragmented community, they were not able to benefit from many of today's survivorship resources. Like millions of other families, they had to go it on their own and hope for the best.
In 2004, Matthew founded Steps For Living (which became I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation in 2007 and then Stupid Cancer in 2012), a progressive social enterprise that linked his worlds of music, cancer advocacy, consumer health marketing, and technology to ensure that people like him, his wife, brother, and parents would have the opportunity to benefit from community and support resources they only wished they had in 1995.
In the years since its founding, through its innovative, award-winning, and evidence-based programs and services, Stupid Cancer has become the leader in the young adult cancer space. The landscape for AYA cancer has changed dramatically over the last decade, in large part due to the work of Stupid Cancer. There are more resources for young adult survivors than ever before - but the isolation of AYA cancer persists. Stupid Cancer is here to be the rallying point and leader in building the AYA cancer community, ending isolation, and making cancer suck less.
AYA Cancer Stats
Young adults can and do get cancer. Most people, don't even consider that it an 18-year-old could be diagnosed. Or a 25-year-old. Or a 37-year-old. Help us change this stigma and spread the word that our generation deserves better. The world needs to be aware that we exist...and that we matter.
- Each year, 89,500 adolescents and young adults aged 15-39 are diagnosed with cancer.
- Cancer incidence in young adults has increased more than any other age group.
- Survival rates have not improved at the same rate as other age groups.
- Cancer is the number one disease killer in young adults.
- Young adults are the most underserved patient population by age.
- Delayed cancer diagnosis is disproportionately higher in young adults.
source: NCI SEER Data, 2015
All of us at Stupid Cancer remain committed to empowering all AYAs impacted by cancer and advocating for equitable access to health care. Moving forward we will be even more deliberate in ensuring we best use our resources to amplify the needs of every single individual within our community, and work to minimize the evident disparities across diverse populations, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to live a healthy life, to get busy living.
Read a statement from Alison Silberman, Stupid Cancer CEO here.