From Cancer to College: The NCCS Offers Education Planning Tips for Childhood Cancer Survivors

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Recognizing the need for resources to help college-age cancer survivors, The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) created a brochure, “Making the Right Transition into College.”

The National Children's Cancer Society

"Pediatric cancer survivors face more than the normal choices when it comes to making college decisions,” said Pam Gabris, coordinator of the NCCS Beyond the Cure program, which supports and educates survivors throughout their lives.

For all college-bound teenagers, choosing the right school and planning how to pay for a degree are both exciting and challenging. For teens who have survived childhood cancer, the life-changing decisions about college can be more daunting, since proximity to medical care and acquiring disability benefits often are additional factors to be considered.

Recognizing the need for resources to help college-age cancer survivors, created a brochure, “Making the Right Transition into College.” The publication, available for free here on the NCCS’s website, offers tips to young adult survivors on how to select a college, secure funding, obtain disability benefits, access medical care, maintain health records and find emotional support systems.

“Pediatric cancer survivors face more than the normal choices when it comes to making college decisions,” said Pam Gabris, coordinator of the NCCS Beyond the Cure program, which supports and educates survivors throughout their lives.

“Some need to consider schools that are close to their homes and doctors. Survivors who have physical or cognitive problems caused by their treatment medications may need help identifying disability benefits. And some students may simply want to connect with other childhood cancer survivors with whom they can share the college journey. Our motivation in creating this publication is to give these young men and women all the information they need to make great decisions ahead of time, so that their college experience is fulfilling and they are successful at reaching their education goals," said Gabris.

College also is a great way for childhood cancer survivors to regain some of the self-confidence they may have lost during treatment. “Setting goals and going after them has a positive impact on both their physical and emotional health,” said Jessica Cook, coordinator of Patient & Family Services at the NCCS. “That’s why support systems are important.” For 19-year-old Neha Kundagrami, connecting with other college-age survivors at the University of Maryland helped her adjust more quickly and feel more comfortable on campus. “They showed me how to live again,” said Kundagrami, now a sophomore pre-med student.

The brochure also provides information about students’ rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and gives tips for finding scholarships. The NCCS offers college scholarships through its Beyond the Cure program; information can be found online at beyondthecure.org/scholarships. There also are links to numerous government and private funding sources at college scholarships.org.

The mission of The National Children's Cancer Society is to provide emotional, financial and educational support to children with cancer, their families and survivors. To learn more about the NCCS and its support services, visit thenccs.org. For the college brochure as well as information and resources for survivors, including a Late Affects Assessment Tool and college scholarship opportunities, visit beyondthecure.org. The National Children’s Cancer Society is a 501C(3) organization that has provided more than $61 million in direct financial assistance to more than 36,000 children with cancer. Visit the NCCS on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thenccs.

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Lori Millner
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