Elephants And Tea - March 2020 - 11

I want to be clear. I'm not better now. I'm
not cured and looking back. I am still in the
thick of it. I just started to go to therapy and
learn the tools that I need to manage those
feelings better. I began to speak more openly
with my friends so they would know what
I'm going through and what kind of support
I needed. I'm still depressed, but I'm better
than I was. I still have up days and down
days but as long as the trend is steadily going
upwards that is progress to me.
I was talking to another person who'd had
cancer recently and they told me, "Cancer is
never really over." I think that is the message
that I want to share with people-all the formerly-cancered humans and their support
systems, the people going through treatment
now and those that will be diagnosed in the
future-cancer is never really over. So instead
of pretending like the problem has just gone
away, let's face it head on so that maybe, just
maybe, those of us who have been touched
by cancer in one way or another won't feel
so alone. l

Alec Kupelian is an administrative
assistant and bookkeeper for Teen
Cancer America.
When Alec was 19 years old, he was
diagnosed with a 19 cm. long tumor in his
left pelvis. He was treated in UCLA's Teen
and Young Adult (TYA) floor which was
sponsored by Teen Cancer America and
The Who. It wasn't until he was partway
through his treatment that he realized that
most adolescents and young adults do
not get the kind of hospital support that he
received, which made what could have
been a nightmare year into one with so
many positives. Because of Teen Cancer
America's support, his time in treatment
was much more manageable.
Teen Cancer America partners with
hospitals throughout the United States to
develop specialized facilities and services
for teens and young adults with cancer.
They build teen-friendly environments,
enhancing the hospital experience. They
develop standards for age-targeted care,
improve collaboration between pediatric
and adult specialists and enable dedicated
research to improve outcomes and
survival for our young people.

"I want to make my
experience a reality
for adolescents and
young adults across
the country."
Photo: Courtesy of Teen Cancer America

when I went out in public so no one would
know. And I was good at it.
As I sit here at home in my bed writing
this piece and reminiscing about the past
five years I've now spent out of treatment, I
can't help but marvel at the fact that no one
talks about cancer, after cancer. It's as if I
was supposed to finish treatment and then
waltz right back into life like nothing had
ever happened and pretend like everything is
okay. But it's not. It's not. I wasn't equipped
with the tools to talk about what happened,
and my friends couldn't relate to it no matter
how hard they tried. Thank goodness they
at least tried. I could barely exercise. I was
still rebuilding my muscles not to mention
my body image. I'd lost my hair and it never
came back. I lost my athleticism and it never
came back. I felt like I'd lost myself and my
friends and my future.

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who are the driving force behind Teen
Cancer America. After over a decade working with Teenage Cancer Trust in the
UK, the duo decided to bring their passion across the pond in 2012 and make a
difference in the lives of teens and young adults with cancer in the United States.
www.teencanceramerica.org

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
MARCH 2020

11


http://www.teencanceramerica.org http://www.elephantsandtea.com

Elephants And Tea - March 2020

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Elephants And Tea - March 2020 - 1
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