The Chronicle Herald, April 9, 2018
Reprinted in memory of Julie Michaud. January 2020
YACC for young adults with Cancer
By Sheryl Dubois Published in The Bedford Sackville Observer, April 2018.
Few community services in HRM are designed for teenagers and young adults living with cancer. Julie Michaud and her son, Archer Michaud, are fixing that.
Julie Michaud is a young adult, a spouse, a mother of three children, and living with Cancer.
The population of young adults with cancer, reminds Michaud, are perhaps starting a career, going to college or university, hitching up with the perfect mate, renting the first apartment and/or thinking about becoming- or are – a parent.
Michaud said young adults with cancer report feeling alone, isolated and quite apart from their life. Speaking by phone, Michaud said, “the problem is isolation.” With few, if any, peers in their networks also surviving cancer, there are few opportunities to ask peers “what to expect or what to do.”
Michaud reports having a great support system in her husband, family and friends, but no one who could relate to her experience as a young adult with cancer, or as a mother – of young children – with cancer.
For Michaud, hearing about Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) was beyond fortunate for both she and her husband. Michaud said her husband also feels isolated living his role.
Michaud shared the history of YACC’s founder, Geoff Eaton, a cancer survivor. As he recuperated from Cancer, said Michaud, it struck him that when he went to the hospital for treatments and appointments, or to support groups, he was surrounded by kids and seniors. In the year 2000 Eaton sowed the seeds for YACC.
YACCs annual Survivor Conference held in June invites young survivors in Canada to four days of events and workshops about practical things, said Michaud, like “brain fog, when you suddenly can’t remember how to get home.” Knowing that other people experience the same thing is “good to know,” said Michaud, “and a relief.”
In addition to brain fog, last June the conference offered workshops, from funeral planning to sleep issues and, said Michaud, and each detailed “different ways to tackle the problems.”
“We have fun, too,” assures Michaud, “and make good friends.”
ShavefortheBrave.ca is the main fundraising effort by YACC. Essentially, participants either shave their head or cut off (6 inches or more) of their hair to donate for wigs. In return, their sponsors donate money directly to YACC to help fund the Survivor Conference participants’ travel and other expenses.
Archer Michaud is Julie Michaud’s eight-year-old son and is, according to Julie, the real hero of this story.
When Michaud’s cancer returned in 2015, the family knew she would lose her hair. She would shave in advance, and Archer announced he wanted to shave with her. The two went to the barber.
The next year, both Michauds had hair and Archer wanted to shave again. He recruited friends and held the event at his elementary school.
By 2017 Archer was needing a project to complete a badge. He had to organize an event and chose a Shave for the Brave. A local barber agreed to open his shop on a Sunday and Archer recruited six others to shave. He raised $1500. He was seven years old.
Michaud said after Christmas 2017 Archer announced a Spring 2018 fundraiser, and this time he was going to raise $2000. Archer’s Community Shave will be held in Dartmouth – Cole Harbour Place – on April 28. Mama Michaud is doubling down, using the event as a draw for a Spring Fair. Why not? Table rentals are available to Artisans and prizes welcome for the silent auction.
After Archer’s event, Julie Michaud will get back to work planning the retreat weekend she and a friend started in 2017, for young adults with cancer, in Nova Scotia.
Click HERE to go to Young Adults Cancer Canada (YACC)
PHOTO – Archer Michaud, organizer of Archer’s Community Shave for the Brave, at a recent fundraising afternoon at Sunnyside Mall. Julie Michaud