Teenagers who are being treated for cancer have emotional and social needs that are different than their younger counterparts. They're facing a frightening diagnosis and treatment during what is already a time of great physical, social and emotional change. For these patients, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia offers unique resources that are tailored to meet the needs of adolescents and young adults. This is the Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program.
AYA Patient Steering Committee
The AYA Patient Steering Committee is made up of adolescent and young adult cancer patients and survivors, as well as psychosocial and child life specialists from CHOP. The group addresses the unique concerns of AYAs and provides a community for children in this age group who have been treated for cancer. Their goals are to:
- Establish connections with other AYAs treated for cancer through various means.
- Promote awareness of adolescent and young adult cancer in the community.
- Increase awareness of and promotion of resources available for AYAs.
- Provide mentorship to newly diagnosed patients and younger AYAs.
- Change the hospital environment to make it more AYA-friendly.
- Assess the wants and needs of the broader AYA cancer community.
- Fundraise to increase AYA resources and programming and help other causes.
Programming for teens with cancer
A number of CHOP programs cater to teens and young adults with cancer. Some were developed for the Cancer Center by the AYA committee and others are available hospital-wide.
Facebook discussion group
The AYA Committee created a private Facebook group for adolescent and young adult cancer patients treated at CHOP. It's a place to discuss all things cancer: the experience of diagnosis, the challenges of treatment, life before and after cancer and much more. Contact the Oncology Psychosocial Services Program online to request an invitation to this group.
Teens who are at the Wood Center for treatment can now spend their down time in one of our new teen-friendly lounges (outpatient on 4 Wood, inpatient on 3 East). These spaces are away from the main waiting area, and set up for older patients to gather on the couch and watch TV, play PlayStation, read and talk.
Art and music
Art and music therapists with expertise in AYA lead individual and group therapy sessions in the Wood Center. Our Artist-in-Residence is on the unit once a week to make art with patients of all ages.
A $50,000 gift from seven-time GRAMMY® winner Taylor Swift, was used to create specialized programming for teens treated at CHOP’s Cancer Center. The first initiative is a high-tech music therapy cart for teens to create and produce their own music while they go through cancer treatment.
Seacrest Studios is an interactive broadcast multi-media center housed in the Colket Atrium that offers many opportunities for AYA involvement:
- Be the DJ
- Interview celebrities
- Attend live broadcasts
- Request songs
- Compete in the annual Battle of the Bands
Throughout the year, the AYA Program offers a variety of events for teens with cancer. We:
- Hosted Molly Hughes, an art director from the Harry Potter films who gave a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movies
- Held an Eagles football outing for a group of patients
- Hosted a Look Good, Feel Better event, which helps girls and guys between the ages of 13 and 17 deal with the appearance, health, and social side effects of cancer treatment