College During Long Term Maintenance?

Tips for college age kids in treatment...
Should they live at home/commute? Take online classes until treatment is complete?
Should they live in a dorm or multi-roommate apartment with unstable AGC? How can Health Services help? He's missed out on so much already to delay the start of college life will be very difficult.

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Hi BsMomma.

I was treated for Hodgkin's Lymphoma when I was 19, during what would have been my sophomore year of college (I'm 26 now). I can share what worked for me, but things might work differently for your son. My biggest piece of advice is to keep things as flexible as possible. That way, he can adapt to his needs accordingly. I lived at home during my treatment, which ended up being a good choice because my immune system was seriously crippled by the chemo. However, I had a friend who lived in a house with two other girls (friends from school) while she was on treatment, so it really depends on the environment where your son would feel most comfortable. Unfortunately, although college students believe that they can handle anything, many of them don't know how to handle a peer with cancer. Ultimately, your son should be in an environment that is safe for him physically and supportive of him emotionally.

In terms of health services, I didn't get much support from the health center on my campus, but only because I didn't rely on them for much. My doctor was in the same town. If this is not the case with your son, I recommend getting acquainted with the staff at the student health center. They should have his treatment records and any vital information that they might need if he comes to them for anything.

I also recommend speaking to his academic advisor, and if he has received financial aid, a financial aid advisor as well. I had two scholarships that required full-time enrollment, and my university's financial aid department helped me keep them, even though I had to drop to part-time during my treatment because of a long hospital stay. Having that flexibility really helped. Also, when it comes to study time and assignments, college classes are a completely different animal from high school classes. You and your son will want to examine his learning style to determine if regular classes (even just a couple) will work with his treatment. If the traditional class format seems like too much right now, he could always take online classes and get involved with student life on campus through events and student organizations. This way, he can still have the college experience and meet people while not feeling overwhelmed because of cancer and classwork (the not-so-dynamic duo).

I am more than happy to answer any questions that you or he may have. My desk number is 855-858-2226 ext 105.

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Thanks so much for your words of advice. You definitely gave us some things to consider and check out. Right now he has that mentality you mentioned- that he can handle anything. He feels like he has missed out on so much already and really wants to have the full college experience. Just praying that he is feeling good enough next fall to give college life a try!
Thanks Again!

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You're very welcome. I hope that he is able to have the experience that he wants!

As a (hopefully) wiser person than my 19-year-old self, I can definitely say that having the attitude that nothing is impossible can definitely be a good thing. However, after my experience, I would go back and tell my younger self that it is okay to ask for help too. I always felt like I had to be strong for my parents and brother, because I didn't want anyone to worry about me or tell me that something wasn't a good idea because I was sick.

From a young adult survivor to the parent of a young adult patient: we can handle more than you ever imagined we could, but we are not always good about telling you everything, for one reason or another. As he goes into this next chapter of his life, just remember to let him know that it's okay to ask for help. I wish someone had told me that.

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