Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Treatment Program at CHOC

At 19, Kyle was diagnosed with cancer at an adult hospital. As a young adult, he wanted to be in an environment where he could connect with other patients his age. CHOC pediatric oncologist and medical director Dr. Jamie Frediani discusses the uniqueness of the AYA Treatment Program at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC in supporting patients ages 15-26 through relationship-building during their treatment and beyond.

Learn more about CHOC’s unique approach to treating adolescents and young adults.

“Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Treatment Program at CHOC” Transcript

Kyle: I was in college. I was going to Cal State Long Beach at the time. I just started walking funny and having some weird things going on, especially being 19 years old. Then I went to the ER and they did a CT scan. That CT scan came back and they told me that I had a little bit bigger than a golf ball sized tumor in the back of my head and that was the first time I learned that I had cancer. Kyle: Going through cancer was the worst experience of my life. I felt so alone and so down. I felt like I was the only teenager going through cancer. Kyle: When I first got diagnosed I was in an adult hospital. I had my surgery in an adult hospital. I did my radiation at an adult hospital. When I went to go do my chemo, I said I wanted a change. Kyle: When I came to CHOC I didn’t feel like a number anymore. I felt like they really did care about who I was as a person. I was more than my treatment and I was more than a patient. Kyle: CHOC is a special place. It really is. They’re family. Dr. Jamie Frediani: Adolescents and young adults in particular really need stronger psycho-social support than our other patients. They have higher rates of depression. Higher rates of anxiety. They have much more social isolation than our younger patients do. Dr. Jamie Frediani: The AYA program at CHOC focuses on patients between the ages of 15-26 years old. It focuses on their psycho-social well being, as well as their treatment outcomes. We focus on things like research and fertility outcomes to give them access to the best and newest medicine available. Kyle: The AYA Halloween party was my first event. I went there and I didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was smiling and having a good time. Everyone was laughing, talking and playing games. I realized I wasn’t alone. That was the first time I felt like there were other people going through this. Dr. Jamie Frediani: Teenagers are supposed to be together. They’re supposed to have friendships and they’re supposed to have community. I think our program here at CHOC really provides a unique opportunity for these relationships to form and for those relationships to improve their healing. Kyle: Going through cancer is not easy. No matter what diagnosis or stage. It’s not easy. The AYA program is the best option, in my opinion, to make it feel easier. No amount of medication, no amount of chemo and no amount of radiation is going to give you the love and support that the AYA can give you.