Every year, about 70,000 adolescents and young adults ages 15-39 are told they have cancer. That’s one every eight minutes. Lisa Bernhard, former Fox News Channel entertainment reporter and TV Guide deputy editor knows all too well what getting a cancer diagnosis feels like. At the age of 29, she became a breast cancer survivor.
These days, Bernhard is an advocate for young cancer survivors with the I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation. Along with IY founder Matthew Zachery, Bernhard co-hosts and co-produces The Stupid Cancer Show, an award-winning international talk radio show, now in its sixth season. The show draws high profile guests ranging from A-list celebrities to top health officials and has been heard by more than 520,000 listeners.
I sat down with Bernhard to find out more about the IY organization and how they are supporting and empowering young cancer survivors.
EmpowHER: The IY brand is irreverent, hip and edgy. How has the IY brand become a lifestyle?
LB: We very much speak the language of our Gen X and Gen Y constituency. IY isn’t just an organization, we’re a movement. Our message is loud and clear. When it comes to cancer issues that affect our age group, we want everyone to know the status quo isn’t okay and we are here to change it. We are at the forefront of the young adult cancer culture; foremost, the organization gives permission for young cancer survivors to rebel against their disease and that is incredibly powerful and empowering.
Too many of us have a similar story. Our cancer went undetected or misdiagnosed for too long because we were too young to have cancer. We also have many unique challenges to deal with because of our age. Many of us fall between the cracks because we are neither pediatric patients nor older adults. So we are all about giving a voice to young cancer survivors regarding their quality of life, care and how to move forward with the disease. The art of survivorship is all about how you chose to get busy living.
EmpowHER: What are some of the unique challenges young cancer survivors face?