The 15-40 Connection and You

Would you recognize a cancer symptom? Would your roommate or your professor? The 15-40 Connection introduces a whole new conversation about cancer. This nonprofit is the only organization that addresses the BEFORE part of the cancer story. The 15-40 Connection is changing the way cancer is diagnosed in 15 to 40 year olds by empowering individuals with knowledge that will save and improve lives through early cancer detection. Let’s recognize the opportunity we have to be proactive about our health, tune into what our “normal” health feels like, and learn when and how to take early action to get checked if we notice a persistent change in that “normal.” At the end of the day, we're the real experts of what that feels like.

What does 15-40 Ask of Us?

Know your body-- Our generation lives in the present. We worry about if we will have time to eat lunch between classes, if we will have time to go to the gym tonight, and if we will have time to stay up late cramming for that Psych test tomorrow. We focus on the future a week in advance at the most and tend to take things one-step at a time. So when it comes to our health, we believe that any major cause of concern is decades away. Our mentality as young adults is that we are invincible like Superman. Ultimately, we feel that cancer can’t happen to us right now because we are too young. As young adults, we need to be aware that we can be as easily diagnosed with cancer as our 64-year-old retired neighbor. A common cancer symptom is a subtle but persistent change in our health. As teens and young adults, take time to tune into what your normal health feels like (energy level, sleep patterns, digestion, appearance of skin, weight range…) and get checked if you notice a change that is still bugging you after 2 weeks. Give yourself the benefit of early detection. Our best bet is to be in tune with our bodies -- that way we can detect any cause for concern ASAP.

Check yourself-- 90% of cancers are cured if detected in their early stages. This is why early detection is key!

 

Act early-- Doctors can be intimidating, and it is completely normal to get embarrassed when sharing private information with them. When Jenifer Lawrence tripped at the Oscars she shrugged it off and confidently got herself back up. Everyone can relate to having embarrassing moments. Therefore, it is important to realize that discussing changes in our health, embarrassing or not, could save our lives. If you are still too shy to directly talk about moles or bowel issues, formulate a list that you can present during your checkup. After all, we know our own bodies better than anyone, even some M.D. Harvard graduate. Doctors are only human, and they can make mistakes. So, if your instincts tell you something is wrong even after your doctor gives you the all-clear, don’t ignore it. You can always get a second opinion. Ultimately, we should be our own advocates and be empowered to take charge of our own health!

15-40 Connection at Connecticut College

The 15-40 Connection non-profit will be represented on campus this year, and students will spread awareness about the importance of being in tune with our bodies and understanding the value of knowing our “normal” health. Be on the lookout for upcoming 15-40 Connection sponsored events. Through a movie night, yoga session, and healthy spring break event, 15-40 at Conn hopes to spread the mantra that being proactive about individual health through early detection can save lives.

For more information on young adult cancer awareness, early detection, or the 15-40 Connection, visit www.15-40.org.