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A Reflection on Our Young Adult Program

I always find it to be such an interesting process to simply stop, take a deep breath and reflect back. July 15th marks one year since we rolled out our all-digital integrative oncology wellness program. This program has a very special focus on the young adult patient and their family or caregiving team.

In 2017, we created the first pediatric integrative oncology wellness program at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. This program focuses on the impact of cancer on a child and their loved ones. It is to complement the great medical care they are receiving and offer ways to address anxiety, stress, movement and nutrition to name a few. And, together with medicine, it functions for the entire well-being of an individual.

Seeing the impact this program had been making on the pediatric patients, we knew we needed to address these needs for the young adult population. The term “young adult” can sound so misleading. Many think young adult is termed up to the age of 18 or 21. Did you know it is actually 39? Sometimes it is even older. This age group experiences some of the greatest amount of change during these years. Adding cancer impacts so much and so many.

With the tremendous support of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and at such a trying time as COVID, we were able to create a fully digital integrative oncology wellness program. Although the focus is on young adults, services are available for everyone, all ages and free of charge just like all of our Lending Hearts offerings.

For years, we often wondered how Lending Hearts could reach beyond Western Pennsylvania. COVID and digital offerings allowed that to happen. We now have individuals in Utah, Texas, Illinois and so many other areas participating. We also developed a private Facebook Group so they may have a virtual space all their own. The Lending Hearts community is now able to expand without any physical boundaries and reach those in need. With a special library of services available on demand through our YouTube channel, time is not an issue either. Services can be enjoyed at any time of day.

A very wise person once told me “Everything that happens to us is neither a positive or a negative. It is how we react to it that makes it a positive or negative.” I am thankful for all that we have learned and grown over this past year. I look ahea with great anticipation and gratitude. There is so much more to come!

Vasso Paliouras

Founder/Executive Director

Lending Hearts

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