Cancer wreaks havoc on the entire family, throwing their world into chaos. The Thomas Matthew Miloscia Foundation aims to ease the financial burden of adolescent and young adult cancer patients and their families by being a ray of hope in their lives.
Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer patients find themselves in a unique situation that distinguishes them from patients younger, as well as, older. The age range for these patients is 15 – 39; they are not children and many are not yet considered adults. They have unique concerns like:
Cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in the AYA population and each year approximately 70,000 adolescents and young adults will hear the dreaded words, “You have cancer”. There are three times more people diagnosed with cancer within the second 15 years of life than in the first 15 years of life. In addition to patients in the AYA community that are diagnosed with cancer for the first time, this group also experiences recurring cancers from childhood and/or secondary cancers resulting from previous cancer treatment.
One of the most alarming facts regarding AYA cancer patients is that their survival rates have not improved significantly over the last decade, unlike the improvements to survival in both children AND older adults, according to the American Cancer Society. There are different theories for the disparity. One theory for the flat survival statistics can be attributed to the late stage of cancer when the patient is diagnosed. Very often patients in this age range (15 – 39) feel like they are invincible and this keeps them from addressing abnormal pain or body changes. Also, parents are no longer checking their children’s bodies and do not see the changes. Additionally, pediatricians are often not trained to identify early cancer signs and may misdiagnose potentially serious symptoms which results in a later stage of diagnosis. By delaying the diagnosis, the stage of cancer is often higher when first diagnosed, resulting in a lower probability of survival. It cannot be stressed enough, that early diagnosis is the key to survival and awareness is the key to early diagnosis. Become familiar with the different warning signs of cancer.
Because Thomas was 17 when he first diagnosed with cancer, we know first-hand the trials and tribulations of the AYA community. We aim to help reduce the financial burden brought on by cancer from costs such as: transportation, tolls, gas, co-pays, deductibles, medications not covered by insurance, childcare, lodging, etc. Eligible patients can apply for an individual grant to assist with financial needs. We also recognize that the mental well-being of a patient dramatically affects a cancer patient’s ability to fight the disease. We hope to improve the mental state of AYA cancer patients by continuing to provide Gift In Kind donations to cancer units of local hospitals to make their stay more bearable. We also sponsor summer camp for current and recovering AYA cancer patients, giving them renewed spirit and connecting them with other AYA cancer patients.
Several organizations were influential during Thomas’s fight against cancer. Our foundation would like to honor their benevolence by giving them special recognition.