Survival rates for teenagers and young adults living with cancer have not improved in almost 30 years. Nevertheless, social media platforms are focusing on young cancer patients.
16 year old, Lauren Scott also known as “Lola” is one of about 70,000 people between ages 15 and 39 who are diagnosed with cancer each year.
Lola has been battling this cancer (metastic retroperitoneal undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma) for four years, since December, 2009.
She has been through 36 radiation treatments, 5 chemotheraphy protocols and 2 relapses as tumors have spread to her lungs.
Lola said this to Fox News via a skype interview:
“It's getting harder and harder to breathe, and I know what that means.”
She chose to lean on social media for support and it has been a great source of encouragement.
Lola's Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and website keeps her going. She started a wish list , #Lolasbucketlist and stated her greatest hope is to meet singer, Demi Lovato.
She said this about social media:
“It's a wonderful thing just putting it all out there and being vulnerable.”
She has motivated hundreds of followers on social media who have been supportive through her battle against cancer (like when she shaved her head and when her family members got inspiring tattoos), they have also kept her company and happier.
“It's a wonderful thing just putting it all out there and being vulnerable,… It's a good type of vulnerable though, and just having all these people gravitate toward me, say such nice things. When I think of them, it just makes me happy.” she said.
Lola was encouraged to rely on social media by Talia Castellano who was popular for her YouTube make-up tips that helped her learn to put on eyebrows and fake lashes in order not to look pale from chemo. Zach Sobieh also inspired her with his song “clouds”. They both died within the last two months.
Matthew Zachary, 38, is the Founder of StupidCancer.org, a non-profit organization aimed at empowering adolescents and young adult cancer patients. He got diagnosed at 21 with brain cancer and wishes he had social media by his side 17 years ago.
“This (cancer) is a life-changing experience, and it's difficult enough to be in that age group, …So the idea of meeting somebody who has gone through that, that is your age, that gets what it's like is transformative.” Zachary said of social media.
Zachary also said. “The general public is really hungry for inspiration and really hungry for people who show them what life is really about.”