C Word team
“The C Word” video series panelists (L to R): Thomas Cantley, Kyla Demarco, Carolyn Van, Peter Laneas, Vinesha Ramasamy, Stephanie Sliekers, and Alyssa Whiteman. (Photo: Princess Margaret Web and Digital Innovation team)

Finances. Education. Romantic relationships. Fertility.

These are all topics that can preoccupy people's minds at one time or another. But what if you had to think about them as a young adult with cancer?

"The C Word," a video series produced by Princess Margaret Cancer Centre's Web and Digital Innovation team, is allowing viewers to listen in on the conversations of young adults as they reflect on life, being young and having cancer.

"We recognized that popular culture shows a very narrow experience of what it's like to be a young person living with cancer. These stories do not usually show the reality of cancer and youth, either," says Alaina Cyr, Web Communications Specialist at the Princess Margaret.

"Filming a group chat let us hear a variety of true-to-life experiences through the panelists' candid conversations."

Production began in the spring of 2015 with the team compiling a list of over 40 questions specifically for young adults. Questions touched on areas such as whether popular films misrepresent youth and cancer; biggest pet peeves after diagnosis; and telling someone you have cancer on a first date.

As the questions were refined, the team also compiled a list of panelists. Reaching out to cancer survivors between the ages of 18-30, it wasn't hard to find a group of individuals who wanted their story to be heard.

The panel is made up of seven young adult cancer survivors – Stephanie Sliekers, Carolyn Van, Kyla Demarco, Vinesha Ramasamy, Thomas Cantley, Alyssa Whiteman, and Peter Laneas. Shot over several hours, the panelists have a candid discussion and share their fears, frustrations, and hopes for the future.

"I can honestly say this has been a huge highlight of my work so far," says Julian Cardozo, Media & Technology Coordinator the Princess Margaret, and director of the series.

"I hope 'The C Word' not only brings awareness but also lets young adult cancer patients and survivors know that they're not alone, to know that others feel what you feel, and that there are other supports and resources here for you at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre."

Visit the Princess Margaret webpage to watch all 11 videos in the series.

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