​How can we be better advocates?

We welcome Mallory, Founder & CEO of young adult cancer advocacy organisation, Lacuna Loft to the Scar Stories blogging team today! Mallory is both a survivor and a fierce advocate for young adults living with cancer or chronic illness. We are excited to share her extensive knowledge and ideas with you.

Mallory Casperson blogs for Scar Stories Inc.

By, Mallory Casperson

The old days of paper fliers and telephone trees are dwindling.  We live in a society becoming more and more connected every day.  Today’s generation of young adults, ages 18-39 in the cancer world, are on their phones, tablets, and computers all the time.  Watches notify us to calendar appointments and incoming texts.  Digital alarms remind us of birthdays, meetings, classes, and deadlines.  Text messages, online chats, blogs, and emails continually update our friends and family with our daily happenings.  More and more data about our whereabouts and behavior is being collected and tracked, from our purchases to our web histories, and really cool ways of visualizing this data are changing the technological and consumer landscape.

All of this information changes how we deal with our schedules, our loved ones, and most of our surroundings.  We are increasingly reliant on the convenience and ease that this technology affords us.  The extra gadgets in our lives also mean more noise.  When it is easier and easier for other people to get in touch with us, more and more information is passed our way on a daily basis.  Sifting through the noise becomes a bit of an art form.  We quickly learn to wade through the advertisements and the spam to get to the actual communications at hand.  Personable and authentic information is what makes the cut…it is what actually gets our attention and time.  Why then, should cancer advocacy be any different?  How can we use all of this information to be better advocates?

The Young Adult cancer movement requires young adults supporting young adults...

If our Young Adult generation is used to fancy graphics, interesting taglines, and an edgy yet kind, personable voice, then that’s what we give them in advocacy.  Blanket calls for support without a creative and authentic voice will not be able to stand out against the multitude of information that is forced our way from minute to minute.  The Young Adult cancer movement requires young adults supporting young adults, while teaching the rest of the oncology community the importance of age-appropriate resources.  This cannot happen with old-school rallies, flyers, and bake-offs.  We have to go straight to the source of what young adults are already interested in and create a hook from there to cancer advocacy.  We have to use the data, use our creativity, our art, and our bodies to affect change in a world drowning in calls for support.

Many organizations around the world are starting to do this.  From rock concerts where we’re encouraged to register as bone marrow donors, to events with rock stars hanging with cancer survivors and mini music festivals (yea, Scar Stories!), from 5k runs to 26.2 mile marathons, these happenings take cancer advocacy directly to where the young adults already are.  Inspiring young adults to do the things they love while supporting their cancer-having peers puts the authenticity and the personal face back into advocacy, despite the noise of the rest of the world.

This is the new face of advocacy, both inside and out of the young adult cancer world.  With real voices, real faces, and real creativity, we can pull together to affect change.