From Researcher to Patient and Back

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is an Oak grantee which provides treatment and care to adults and children with cancer, and researches tomorrow’s cures. The Young Adult Program (YAP) at Dana-Farber recognises the unique set of challenges that young adults with cancer face. YAP helps to address these challenges through providing emotional support services, opportunities to meet other young adults receiving treatment and educational programs aimed at enhancing knowledge and self-advocacy skills. Oak support is aimed at strengthening this work, allowing YAP to take a holistic approach to the lives and futures of young adults with cancer.

Katherine Walsh is an inspirational young cancer researcher who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the tender age of 23. In this video, she shares her experience from being a PhD candidate at Harvard Medical School and researcher at Dana-Farber to moving back to her childhood home after her diagnosis. Throughout the speech, presented during the 2016 Young Adult Cancer Conference at Dana-Farber, Walsh exposes her feelings of vulnerability, mortality and frustrations at the day-to-day challenges and side effects of treatment whilst watching her friends move on with their lives. She expresses love and thanks for her parents and family for their care and above all delivers a moving testimony about the importance of a supportive community. Through support groups, conferences, the annual Jimmy Fund Walk and other activities, Walsh formed special bonds with other young adults and formed lifelong friendships that helped her to make sense of the experience. She implores other young people to reach out and connect with one another, make friends, help fill voids in other people’s lives and work together to navigate the unexpected, challenging and confusing path of cancer treatment that young adults face.  

Katherine Walsh completed her PhD at Harvard in mid-2015 and is now a cancer researcher at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.

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