Supporting Young Adults in a Group Format

Insights From Practice With the

Candlelighters’s Community


In fall of 2015, I was offered the opportunity to create and ran a support group in Tucson, Arizona for young adults with cancer. The local Candelighter’s of Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that provides support to cancer patients and their families, had just received a grant to facilitate a group. Tucson is a region of the United States where there is no current support groups for teenagers and young adults with cancer (YAG). This YAG population are either seen on the adult or pediatric unit, which is a source of isolation. Many cancer patients find support when they connect with others their age either in support group or in wait and treatment rooms. Therefore, the importance of this support in Tucson was vital to the needs of the young adults. Along with Candelighter’s, another local foundation, Courtney’s Courage, was interested in providing a meal before each group to help provide more opportunity for relationship building. Courtney’s Courage’s mission is dedicated to raising funds for pediatric cancer research, specifically neuroblastoma, and to support those families whose children are suffering from cancer. With the collaboration of Candelighter’s and Courtney’s Coinage, local social workers and myself, we have been able to meet the community needs for teenagers and young adults throughout the past 4 years. The development and support of all collaborated parts have continued to provide these young adults with a support group within a successful community that meets the needs of cancer patients throughout Tucson.

Structure Consideration

There were a lot of considerations in the process of planning the group. The primary location of young adults’ treatment is at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, so the group was to be in the hospital. The inpatient unit was the location since it would allow for young adults admitted to the hospital to have the option to participate in the group. Because of the social

Supporting Young Adults in a Group Format 23 economic and the isolation issue for young adults, we knew we were going to provide a meal prior to the group. The significance of the dinner was to encourage young adults to come and connect with others in an informal social connection as well as ensure they had a meal. Another benefit to the meal was that the young adults got to know the founder of Courtney’s Courage and leam about a foundation that was created for the founder’s daughter and her fight against neuroblastoma. Over the years of this particular relationship has been influential. Some of the YAG members have been speakers are their annual golf fundraiser. They have also been interviewed and recorded for their funding video. The post-traumatic gr owth that the foundation’s essence can be inspirational to the young adults. The support of Cour-ney’s Courage throughout the past 4 years has been an incredible benefit to the individual members and the group as a whole. The nonprofit’s influence in the young adult gr oup will be mentioned throughout this chapter.

Group was going to be once a month and in the evening, a time that newly diagnosed young adults could attend as well as active patients and survivors. The first group was conducted in the cafeteria private room, and the proceeding groups were designed from the initial meeting. One of the members suggested having it on the inpatient unit, as they had wished the group was available when they were hospitalized.

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