The "Embarking on Life" group:
Was established by ICA as a new supportive community for young cancer survivors in their 20s and 30s.
Was created to provide a solution to the needs of this unique population segment - young men and women who contended with cancer upon the threshold of a new phase in their adult lives: while they were in the midst of doing matriculation exams, enlisted in the army, on a trip overseas, or studying at university, in the transition from their parents' home to a new family unit.
These are young people who have begun their adult lives from a unique starting point and encounter difficulties that do not end with recovery. In the transition from adolescence to adulthood and upon embarking on an independent life, these young people experience particular difficulty and loneliness when coping with the disease and its aftermath.
These young adults fall between the cracks in terms of their age, relating neither to children nor to older adult cancer patients; they lack a supportive social framework on their road back to their routine that has been disrupted.
They require a transitional setting for individualized support tailored to each and every member of the group, according to his/her specific needs.
The Embarking on Life program:
Was designed as a professionally guided "home away from home" that provides a warm and friendly environment for these young adults that serves as a support group to meet their special needs.
The group moderators, representing ICA, accompany them for ten weekly 2-hour meetings, during which these young people undergo a group process of coping with issues and questions concerning the disease and the return to life's "regular and normal" routine, for instance:
Whom should I tell?
With whom do we talk about the disease?
How do we cope?
The relationship between cancer patients and their partners and family, dealing with life's routine, work, hope and significant life events.
The group's weekly activity serves as a platform for a learning and growth process, with a beginning and an end, and when it concludes, a new circle of extensive activities begins, and continues throughout the year, including jeep tours, water sports activities, workshops on different topics, and parties. These activities are supported by a group of volunteers who accompany the group.
In 2000, the first Young Adults Embarking on Life group went on a fascinating jeep tour in Greece. The group continued to go on trips throughout Israel for about a year and a half, and held diverse activities that were organized by members with assistance from volunteers and donors. The movie "Get Out of Here Cancer" (Uf Sartan) which documented the group's travels was aired on Channel 8.
Additional Young Adults Embarking on Life groups went on sailing trips in an authentic sailboat on the Northern Sea.
This sailing trip was a "journey into the depths of the soul". While they emotionally coped with the disease and recovery, members of the group also contended with operating a ship, setting the sails and sailing the ship, preparing food, and taking care of the ship's regular maintenance.
One of the members of the group remarked: "The trip, this experience was like wind in my sails. The experience took me to warm and sweet places. It helped me make great strides. I have so many good things to tell, unfortunately, I have also experienced many moments of life's downside. Moments on the edge of a deep dark pit, minutes that seemed endless, asphyxiating. I have resurfaced".
Shira, one of the project's participants: "I was in a lot of groups when I had cancer, and it's totally different, we are all equal here and are very fond of each other. The group has equipped me with the coping strategies, to think more clearly, more profoundly. I wanted to help, and actually I helped myself, there's no doubt that I received more than I gave. Even seven years later, I needed the group, because I still hadn't tied up all the loose ends".
Over the past years, following the return from the sailing trips, the group members took part in diverse activities and also engaged in volunteer activities in different hospital wards, and took part in meetings and workshops, sing-along parties and other social activities.
Volunteers accompany the group's activity throughout the year, and its activities are funded by donations earmarked for Embarking on Life, as well as by token fees paid by group members who take part in the activities.
To join the group please contact: Social Worker Mrs. Orit Spira, Head of the Rehabilitation and Welfare Dept., Israel Cancer Association: +972-3-572.16.14.
Support the activities and social events: US$ 17,000 p.a. Kindly contact us, should you wish to contribute to this project. Please note that all donations received are transferred in full (no overhead is taken).
Lili Lev Biller
Committees and Projects Coordinator