Blog Post | Jul 05, 2023

Finding Community and Support as a Young Adult with Cancer: Savannah's Story

By Savannah Mason
By The Austin Hatcher Foundation
Finding Community and Support as a Young Adult with Cancer: Savannah's Story

I was diagnosed with grade 3 RELA+ anaplastic ependymoma on April 1, 2022. I suffered from absence seizures for months prior to receiving my diagnosis of a brain tumor and brain bleed. I underwent a craniotomy April 4, 2022, followed by 30 radiation treatments and 42 days of oral chemotherapy.

No one tells you how isolating cancer is as a young adult. No one tells you that when you go to the cancer center to receive treatments, and you’re the youngest there, about the weird looks you get from people because you look “too young” to have cancer. No one tells you about the hair comments. That because your surgeon didn’t shave you bald for surgery and your bald spot wasn’t always visible (because I knew how to hide it), you’d get comments from people asking how I didn’t lose any hair (even though I had). No one tells you how alone you’ll feel. I felt like I had drifted away, slowly disappearing day by day. I felt this way until I found community. Through the cancer community, I gained some really good friends and people who truly understood what I had been through. Because only people who have been through it themselves truly understand. Sympathy and empathy are two different things.

After surgery, I suffered many deficits. Peripheral vision loss, motor skill function issues, expressive aphasia, difficulty balancing, memory issues, etc. I received 1 OT session while I was recovering in the hospital. After that, I did not receive OT even though, looking back, I definitely needed it. Flash forward to several months ago when my counselor referred me to Austin Hatcher, where I began having OT sessions with Anna. These have been absolutely life-changing and invaluable experiences that I am so grateful for.

There are so many gaps to my story that if I filled in, you’d be reading for hours. Moral of the story, cancer sucks. Community saved me.