AYA Mentors Spotlight

Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) who are treated for cancer have unique emotional and social needs. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) offers a range of resources tailored to this age group. For one program, AYAs who have completed cancer treatment serve as mentors to AYAs currently receiving treatment. Meet some of the AYA mentors who listen, answer questions, share experiences and provide support to patients here at CHOP.

AYA mentor Brett Brett, 24

  • Diagnosis: Non-Germ Cell Germanoma
  • How many years since you completed cancer treatment: 11 years as of January!
  • What helped you the most as you were going through cancer treatment: What helped me the most during treatment was the love and support of my family and friends. Me and my family are super close and the whole experience brought us closer. I was always surrounded by love and positivity which kept me going and gave me a positive mindset through such a hard time. My CHOP family also helped me during treatment. Without the care and kindness of my doctors and nurses, I couldn’t have gotten through it. CHOP is an amazing place!
  • Why are you participating in the mentorship program today: Finding out I had cancer was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Even with the love and support I had, it sometimes feels like no one understands what it’s like to go through something traumatic like this. I wanted to participate in the mentorship program because I think that talking and sharing experiences will help provide support through that journey, and if you do feel isolated you have someone there who knows what it’s like what you’re going through.
  • What’s the #1 piece of advice you share with your mentee: No matter how hard things are try to keep a positive outlook and remember to take it one day at a time.

close up image of girl Erin, 25

  • Diagnosis: acute promyelocytic leukemia
  • How many years since you completed cancer treatment: I celebrated five years since I completed treatment on Feb. 9!
  • What helped you the most as you were going through cancer treatment: My family was a huge support to me throughout my treatment, as well as the nurses and staff at CHOP. They always made sure to treat me as a person and not just a patient.
  • Why are you participating in the mentorship program: I think adolescent cancer treatment is such a unique journey, and having someone to talk to who has had a similar experience can be extremely beneficial. I would have loved to have someone to talk to when I went through treatment, and my hope is to provide support and help others while they go through their own journey.
  • What’s the No. 1 piece of advice you share with your mentee: It is OK to have mixed emotions and feelings about your diagnosis and treatment, and to find a way to let those emotions out, whether through talking to someone, journaling, physical activities or other outlets.

man portrait outside smiling Vinnie, 32

  • Diagnosis: acute myeloid leukemia
  • How many years since you completed cancer treatment: 16 years
  • What helped you the most as you were going through cancer treatment: Being around people who supported me.
  • Why are you participating in the mentorship program: To provide support and meaningful connection in someone’s journey to reconcile with their life during and/or after cancer.
  • What’s the No. 1 piece of advice you share with your mentee: That they don’t need to apologize for their condition and their feelings about it.

girl softball portrait Stephanie, 21

  • Diagnosis: acute myeloid leukemia
  • How many years since you completed cancer treatment: 6.5 years
  • What helped you the most as you were going through cancer treatment: Wanting to get back on the softball field, having a lot of support from my family and friends, and having the mindset that my cancer wouldn't stop me.
  • Why are you participating in the mentorship program: Because the one thing I wish I had during my treatment was someone my age, who knew what it was like, to talk to.
  • What’s the No. 1 piece of advice you share with your mentee: Don't let anyone tell you how to feel about your diagnosis, going through treatment or recovery. And do what you need to do for you.