Examining Support For Cancer Patients And Survivors In College

by Chloe Bennet

There’s never a good time in life to get diagnosed with cancer. That said, dealing with cancer during the formative and vital period of your education is a particularly harsh deal. Strangely enough, college aged cancer patients or survivors are actually spoken about much less than other cancer demographics. 

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Though cancer is perfectly capable of taking lives, no cancer fighter will be willing to compromise their life after cancer by letting their lives grind to a halt while they fight it.

Cancer is something that can, when individuals aren’t supported properly, really throw a life off track. Allowing this to happen at a college age can really negatively impact a person’s future which, if they manage to beat cancer, is a bitter reward for having undergone such a difficult and intense period of their lives. So what is done to support cancer patients and survivors while they are in college and what can be done? How effectively are cancer patients capable of carrying out their college lives whilst still sick? Without further ado, let’s explore these questions and examine the state of cancer support for patients and survivors in college.

Securing Funding

The elephant in the room when someone is diagnosed with cancer isn’t so much what might happen to them, but what it all might cost. “In the modern educational world, college fees are particularly exorbitant and depending on the combination of college you attend and degree you receive, there’s a reasonable chance that you graduate in tens of thousands of dollars of debt and with limited career opportunities available to you. When you through cancer in on top of that, you could find yourself in a non-reconcilable financial situation, that could even haunt you for life”, explains Martha Ko, health writer at Academized and MBA Essay Help. Add to that any of the potential harm that cancer has left you with in the long term which could affect your ability to work and you find yourself in deep trouble. The really difficult thing is that, whilst you can take student loans out, when you have cancer it’s almost impossible to be loaned money. Certain richer colleges, Ivy Leagues for example, have fairly comprehensive support systems for financially burdened students and will give you financial aid accordingly. However, for other students you are likely going to find yourself relying on the generosity of others. If you search around there are a variety of grants aimed specifically at cancer patient students that you can apply for. Overall though, this is an area that needs some real addressing.
Student Health Insurance Failures.

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One of the most terrible elements to being diagnosed in college is that your initial medical consultation and even a few of the primary parts of the cancer consultation and treatment is covered by our student health plan. However, at some point that all changes in a flash. Firstly, some student health plans are deeply puritan about how much school you need to be attending to qualify for the benefits of the plan. So if you miss a few months for treatment you can be kicked straight away. Secondly, communication over the details of what the plan will cover are quite cryptic meaning you can at any moment be left in the lurch, without any plan for addressing the fact that you now have to face expensive treatment all alone. This situation needs to be rectified as soon as possible, with student health plans being far more transparent in terms of what can be expected of them in these serious situations.

On Campus Support And Response

The biggest issue when discussing this particular area is how hard it is to judge. On a systematic level college campuses tend to respond extremely poorly to students who have been diagnosed with cancer. The communication system between the primary cancer-related healthcare provider and the support systems present on a college campus is nonexistent, with most of that translation having to be handled by the student themselves. It goes without saying that this burden alone is a lot for a student who is also suffering with cancer. Similarly, what the hospital might tell a sufferer they need might not be easily provided on campus, in the health center. The process of changing housing, which is often vital for a cancer patient, since living in a room with 3 other people isn’t practical, can be surprisingly long and can leave cancer patients in the awkward and harrowing position of feeling like a burden on those around them.

Examining Support For Cancer Patient Students

The reality though is that all of this is dependent on a sort of case by case scale. It’s possible that a school health center has a nurse with a particular knowledge of cancer care, and a connection with the health providers at the hospital. This would then mean that things might be a lot easier. However, it’s this unpredictability, the element of chance dictating whether a college campus makes someone’s life hell or really helps them that ought to be eliminated, with a far better, universal attitude towards care and support.

Mental Health

Lastly, but certainly not least, a cancer diagnosis in your late teens or early twenties takes a massive toll on you psychologically. Colleges are already rife with depression, anxiety and all sorts of other mental health issues, so adding a cancer diagnosis to that is unlikely to do anything beyond making the problem a lot worse. “College therapists and counselors need to be able to give real and continuous support to students with serious illnesses like cancer. The effect of these illnesses is to make students, in the already socially pressured environment of college, feel deeply isolated, something which requires proper treatment in of itself”, explains George McTavish, educator at Paper Fellows  and  BigAssignments.


Overall, there is work to be done. This seems pretty clear. But, the first step is establishing precisely hat it is that college aged patients and survivors really need. To achieve this, the students themselves need to be consulted and acknowledged, their struggles highlighted. Hopefully we will see more and more of that.

Woman Student

Chloe Bennet is a health journalist at Assignment Writing Service and Essay Roo academic websites. She writes and creates lifehacks for students. Also, she develops writing courses online at Professional essay service, educational portal.

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