It’s been over 10 years now since taking our Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program patients ages 15 to 20 for weekend getaways to a resort in the Poconos and then more recently to Seven Springs Mountain Resort. We just returned from the 2016 trip where 25 young adults and our six chaperones enjoyed an amazing weekend, albeit a bit wet and warm for January.
Since 2005, this trip has served to create a peer-based support system for these young adults and this year it was no different. We spent time participating in many activities, including skiing, snowboarding, bowling, roller skating, swimming, eating together around the resort, and hitting the arcade. Many of our attendees took advantage of the amazing spa as well for facials, manicures, and massages. We have learned that these weekend trips away from families and the hospital are therapeutic and have built many strong friendships over the years. Many teens that had never skied or snowboarded before once again got out of their comfort zone, took lessons, and tried these sports. We played board games in the common room throughout the weekend and it was a blast for everyone.
I have chaperoned all 12 trips and continue to feel uniquely privileged to spend time with these amazing people for a weekend. It was for the most part relaxing (thanks to the spa), but we also had an exciting time watching the Pittsburgh Steelers pull out a last second playoff victory against the Cincinnati Bengals! Our common room was full of nerves and Steeler pride by the final whistle. As always, this trip was a huge hit with attendees already committing to next year’s trip and those that will be 21, sadly enjoying their last getaway weekend with us.
In the meantime, we plan on continuing our other AYA events such as Pirates games and painting classes throughout the year. Learning that so many patients want to participate and can’t wait to come back year after year is telling us that we are doing something right.
Happy New Year and once again, here’s to a happy and healthy 2016 for all of our amazing patients, whether they be 9 or 19! The countdown to next year’s trip begins now.
These trips are free to the attendees and are paid for through generous donations to our AYA fund. If you are interested in supporting these trips and other AYA oncology patient programming, please contact the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and direct your donation to the AYA Oncology Fund: https://www.givetochildrens.org/
The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program, within the Division of Hematology/Oncology is led by Dr. Peter Shaw and combines unparalleled treatment options with a comprehensive approach to care that addresses the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer. This program enables patients to be treated by pediatric oncologists in collaboration with adult oncologists to provide the most complete cancer care possible. It’s an approach patients won’t find anywhere else in the region. And most importantly, it’s an approach that will give patients a better chance at survival.