Some patients we meet open our eyes to new insights regarding the cancer experience. For me, one such young woman was Sarah, a bright promising 21-year-old engineering student. Tragically her cancer was winning its battle. Yet she tried her best to stay connected to her peer group. Her friends would come to the hospital and tell her about their shopping adventures, the new shoes they’d purchased and their plans for their graduation parties.
From her small hospital bed, Sarah listened with great interest. But inside her, another war was raging. Sadly, her friends couldn’t relate to that war and as time passed she found it very difficult to talk to them about the fact that she was fighting for her life.
Gradually, she no longer had the energy for visits from her school friends and they no longer shared the same goals and dreams. Graduation dreams for her had ended long ago. Her fight for her life had become her immediate and total focus.
It’s difficult for young people battling cancer to know what to say to their friends. Even though their friends may show them all of the love and caring in the world, they just don’t have the life experience to know how to approach someone who has such a critical illness. As a result, loneliness and isolation become huge barriers for this cancer group.
At its best, VOBOC acts as a bridge linking isolated youth to the hospital’s resources and support.