RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Young adults going through cancer treatment often feel alone, too old for a children’s hospital, but much younger than many other cancer patients. Now, UNC Hospital is home to a new cancer clinic specifically for young adults.
It’s a place no one wants to sit, in a chair getting chemotherapy to treat cancer. But inside UNC Hospital there is a space designed to make the process a little less lonely and a little more peaceful for young adults.
“We tried to bring as much symbolism of life into the space as possible,” noted Jesse Sorrell, who helped design the infusion center.
It’s filled with images of nature, something that brought him comfort during his own two battles with melanoma.
“I’ve always loved trees and the Earth. I spent so much time in the forest before and after treatment, before and after scans, waiting for scary things,” he said. “I really experienced such peace.”
The clinic will treat patients ages 18-39. Lauren Lux, the director of the UNC Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program explained, “You’ll be able to look around the room, and see other young people receiving care too, so even if you don’t speak to the person next to you, just being in the same space with other young people lessens that feeling of isolation.”
The clinic is called the The Be Loud! Center for Young Adult Cancer Care. It’s named for the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation, which was created in memory of Sophie Steiner.
“Sophie recognized that not all young people have the same support and resources that she received when she was here with family that lives seven miles down the road,” said Dr. Andrew Smitherman, medical director of the UNC AYA Cancer Program.
Sophie wanted to make sure no one felt alone while battling cancer. After her death, the foundation partnered with UNC Lineberger Cancer Center to create the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program at UNC.
Over the past 8 years, the program has grown substantially. Program leaders hope the new clinic space will have a positive impact on both the mental and physical health of the people treated.
“Nobody wants to be here; it’s not fun,” noted Lux. “But if you’re going to have to be here, we certainly want you to feel a little more peaceful, a little more calm, a little more comfortable while you are receiving treatment.”