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By Stacia Wagner
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

High School Graduation time! It is the end of one phase of life and the opening to the next phase. For many it is the start of independence. Transitioning to college, seeking employment, increased financial responsibilities, forming committed relationships, and moving out of home are just some of the experiences most teens face after high school. For most young adults this is the healthiest point of their life and the point where their physical performance is at its peak.  After surviving a brain tumor, this transition is even more significant and celebratory for survivors and their families. Along with the celebration, it can also bring wide range and emotional, educational, and physical challenges.

When Austin Myers mother, Patricia, was asked about his upcoming high school graduation her response was “Regarding graduation, hmmm, I am VERY excited, nervous, sad, proud……all the typical “Mom” emotions, plus sheer joy of all that he has been through and that he has soared into ‘adulthood’. I have ordered cases of tissues for myself for the actual graduation field ceremony, because I am sure I will not make it through dry-eyed.”

While these emotions are common for many parents when their child graduates, a parent of a brain tumor survivor knows their child has overcome obstacles well beyond their chorological age and may face new obstacles in environments where they will have to advocate for themselves. Many colleges are unfamiliar with the neurocognitive challenges faced by brain tumor survivors and therefore do not provide the necessary accommodations. This is also true for employers. We know brain tumor survivors face an even higher unemployment rate than their childhood cancer survivor counterparts. Also many survivors express challenges related to dating and forming lasting peer relationships with people who genuinely understand their maturity and differences.

The CBTF Survivor Program addresses these challenges through information, advocacy and clinical and peer support. Thank you Patty for sharing your heartfelt emotions and congratulations Austin and all the graduating survivors!  Please share your story and thoughts with us.

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