Quite often we do not even realize that an average student sitting next to us in a baseball cap is one of those cancer survivors or a person still battling this terrible disease. Unfortunately, cancer is more common in the college community than we may assume. According to statistics, about 72,000 learners aged between 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer every year where one of every 100 college students is a cancer survivor. While we are not dealing with the typical learning disability in this particular case, both the mental and physical aspects of battling cancer in college are quite serious, which makes it crucial for the students and their family members to seek additional help. Thankfully, numerous colleges in the United States and beyond provide relevant support that ranges from special scholarships to accommodation rules and boarding where each student battling cancer can receive immediate assistance and mental support.
Challenges of Attending College With Cancer
The most disturbing aspect of dealing with cancer is the battle of both physical and mental factors that always come into play. The list of challenges that students face at each stage of cancer treatment is enormous because each person battling cancer is different and the reactions to chemotherapy or any other type of treatment will differ, making it hard to concentrate or sit through the lengthy lecture. Some of the common challenges include:
- Fatigue. It is one of the most common factors that make it challenging to be productive when doing homework. After all, it may be impossible to get up in the morning because of the treatment, so each schedule must be adjusted accordingly.
- Nausea and Vomiting. It is one of the frequent side-effects of chemotherapy, which is why it is vital to provide students with more freedom regarding on-campus movements and classroom placement.
- Body Changes. The weight loss and the loss of hair are quite common because of the treatment, yet there are also physical issues related to talking and skin rashes or swelling. It makes it hard to communicate with other students and college professors since the levels of physical and mental discomfort are quite high.
- Concentration & Focus Challenges. These are related to the medication that is prescribed, which makes it challenging to keep focused as the mind becomes vague or "foggy" as most cancer survivors describe it. Therefore, recording the lectures to listen to them later becomes a good solution.
- Social Life Interactions. Basically, it means dealing with a new reality and the attitude of friends, which is one of the worst aspects of attending college with cancer since one may be unable to attend parties or walk around with friends because of feeling sick.
- The Time Balance. The cancer students find it hard to accommodate their time schedules since they cannot control it or may have to attend medical appointments based on their ever-changing situation.
Another important aspect to consider is the change of priorities, which is only natural as the student faces the pressure and may even doubt his or her degree. It is a part of fighting cancer and only requires a bit of psychological help and someone to talk to.
Different Types of Support on Campus and Beyond
As a rule, college students with cancer or those who have survived the battle can turn to numerous adjustments based on their treatment and special needs. Since a typical student with cancer is considered disabled, it falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It means that you have a right to turn to state-funded institutions (colleges and universities) that have to provide you with certain accommodations. Some of them include:
- Helping You Meet The Deadlines. It means that you will be given more time to complete your assignments. Of course, it will have to be for a reason specified like the effect of the medical treatment or being away from school.
- External Aid & Technical Solutions. Since the perception of information may be limited due to loss of vision or hearing, one should be provided additional education benefits. It can be an audio recorder, talking calculator, or special devices for improved hearing purposes.
- Different Testing Environment. Since we are dealing with concentration and memory challenges, the students are typically eligible for an extension to get every test complete in a safe area where they can feel confident and can take some rest if it is absolutely necessary.
- Various On-Campus Transportation Solutions. The challenges of being physically weak are quite common, which is why it may be difficult to walk down a flight of stairs or even move through the large campus. In certain cases, colleges may provide a vehicle with a driver to help students move around.
- Different Schedule For Class Tasks. It stands for the flexible schedules that will help those students who are not able to meet the deadline for some reason based on each case.
- Distance Learning. It is one of those options for students who are in the worst state, yet still wishing to continue with their studies. For the most part, it will relate to online classes and video lectures.
- Professional Academic Assistance. In simple terms, you receive a person who will help you complete your coursework like a tutor. You will have an assistant who will provide you with the materials you may have missed or explain some complex concepts differently.
- Classroom Accommodation. Starting from classroom temperature adjustments to the provision of drinking water and a comfortable sofa to listen to the college professor by resting one's back and body is another option that appears to be helpful for students with cancer.
You can receive additional help from your college by turning to their help center. In most cases, you should approach the Students with Disabilities sector of your educational institution or talk to your academic advisor as you seek help.
College Life After Cancer: Tips and Recommendations
Since it is not always possible to attend college when battling cancer, it is important to understand that college education may be put on hold to let one's brain and body focus on the immune response. Therefore, building your life after cancer may seem too challenging, yet it is still possible and must be done. Think over these aspects:
- Be Proactive. Before you consider coming back, think over every cancer-related issue that you may face during your studies. Even if you receive the "all clear" as a cancer survivor, the typical side-effects of medication are still there. Of course, there is a lot of work to be done as you have beaten cancer, yet you should still ask for college and campus accommodations as you take the tests and make sure that you arrange your classes in advance without harming your academic status.
- Always Ask For Help. Asking for help is necessary to avoid stress and anxiety because every returning student battling cancer may be unable to understand all the limitations and challenges that always come along when some catching up must be done. Think over special transportation on campus and classroom assistance. Likewise, you can think of on-campus and off-campus local support groups and community officers who may help you with the basic needs.
- Do Not Be Too Hard On Yourself. Remember to always inform your doctor about your progress as you are learning. It is good to talk to your academic advisor and explain your situation in advance. It will help you in case of any medical emergency and will let you understand your strength levels differently. Remember not to overdo it and be patient as you take one step at a time.
- Get to Know The Campus. Do your best to learn more about the campus and learn as much as you can. Moreover, as you return, you may be older than the other students, which means that you will be more mature and have a different set of mind, yet show some understanding, as well as the other students, simply do not realize the trouble you have been through. Still, they also have their set of challenges where you can be of great help!
Always take time and do not rush even though it may feel that you have to catch up and do it all at once! Take your time to slow down and see things in perspective as you plan each step with great care and consideration!
Helpful Resources for Students With Cancer
Regardless if you need more information in terms of legal protection or paying for college, take time to study these resources:
- Cancer For College. An institution founded in 1993 to help cancer survivors learn and realize their academic aspirations. It has great resources to help people see how to cope with the disease as they learn.
- CDC's Cancer Data & Statistics. Learn information about the current state of cancer patients and survivors in the United States along with helpful resources, legal help, scholarships, educational recommendation, healthcare resources, and more.
- American Cancer Society (ACS). It is one of the best resources for cancer patients and survivors with a plethora of helpful resources.
- Cancer and Careers. It has information regarding career options for cancer survivors who may receive special benefits and still work while recovering.
- Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC). It has a list of organizations aiming to help cancer patients settle down their financial needs and receive timely help.
- CourseBuffet. You can find thousands of online courses based on your discipline for remote education.
- Disability Rights Legal Center. A charitable organization that aims to protect rights of the college students with disabilities, including students with cancer.
- National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. It provides a lot of psychological help leaflets and information that will help you in your daily life as you study.
- Pediatric Oncology Resource Center. An important resource for those who had cancer as a child or students dealing with a young family member battling cancer. It also has a list of scholarships for childhood cancer survivors.
- US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. You can bring up your legal concerns by turning to the specialists assigned to your particular case.
Consider learning more about each resource listed to find out about your legal rights and the ways how you can adjust your educational plan and receive assistance as you battle cancer.
Scholarships for Students With Cancer, Cancer Survivors & Family Members
Starting with the options for students with cancer:
- Cameron Siemers Foundation for Hope: Life Grant. This award of $5,000 is given to anyone diagnosed with cancer or any life-threatening illness aged between 18 and 30. Deadline: June 2021.
- Friends of Scott: Scott Delgadillo Scholarship. It has a variable amount of up to $10,000 based on your situation and the severity of an illness. Financial and personal hardships are the major criteria for being eligible. Deadline: October 2021.
- Nicki Leach Foundation Endowed Scholarship. The amount of this award varies. It is meant for individuals between 18 and 30 years old aiming to enter the field of college education and obtain employment. Deadline: July 31, 2021.
- Patient Advocate Foundation Scholarship. You can receive up to $3,000 if you are an undergraduate student. You must be at least 25 years old and have a diagnosis or receive treatment within the last five years. Deadline: Autumn, 2021.
- Kids 4 Kids with Cancer Scholarship. If you have been diagnosed with cancer before reaching your 18th birthday, you can apply for the $2,000 grants. Deadline: November 2021.
- Bone Marrow and Cancer Foundation Scholarship Grant. If you have undergone a transplant, consider this scholarship for your either full-time or part-time college education. Your annual household income should be less than $55,000. The amount of the scholarship is $1,000.
- The Brian Morden Memorial Scholarship. If you are planning to major in music, technology, or medicine, consider this $1,000 award. You should provide two years of transcripts, a diagnosis letter, and two recommendation letters.
Cancer Survivors Scholarships:
- Cancer for College: Dear Jack Scholarship. It offers from $1,000 to $5,000 assistance to college students who have survived cancer and want to pursue a career in music and arts.
- Cancer Survivor's Fund Scholarship. It has a varied amount and is meant for students who are currently fighting or survived cancer. The only requirement is to share your experience with young cancer patients to help them cope with it.
- Stephen T. Marchello Scholarship Foundation. Open to high school graduates planning to attend college. Montana or Colorado residents are in priority.
- Karen Baker Scholarship. It is meant for those who would like to enter any four-year college studies. You can win up to $50,000 assistance in total. Cancer survivors are in priority. If you are ready to share your life values and future career goals, consider this scholarship.
- Jackie Spellman Scholarship Foundation. If you are a cancer survivor and have young children or seniors in your household, you can receive financial assistance up to $5,000.
- Eagle Fly Leukemia Scholarship. You can be eligible for a $3,000 scholarship if you are a cancer survivor.
- The Izzy Foundation. Receive up to $5,000 if you have financial struggles as a cancer survivor. Deadline: October 2021.
- Sofia's Hope College Scholarships. The applicant must be enrolled in a college or university for the Fall 2022 semester and provide an essay about the impact of cancer on life and career choice. You can receive $2,000 plus a laptop or tablet. The new application cycle will open on January 1, 2022.
The Scholarships for Students With Family Members Who Have or Had Cancer:
- The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults: Bernice McNamara Memorial Scholarship. You can receive up to $2,500 scholarship help for your educational needs if you have been diagnosed with cancer or have a loved one battling the disease.
- Orange County Community Foundation: Michael A. Hunter Memorial Scholarship. You can get from $2,000 to $3,000 assistance if you have a 3.0 GPA and show a clear financial need, being diagnosed with Leukemia or Lymphoma. The parents of children with cancer are also eligible.
- Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation Scholarship. Receive up to $1,000 assistance if you are going to attend a trade school and you are (or a family member) is affected by breast cancer.
- The PinkRose Foundation Scholarship Award. Receive up to $1,000 if you have lost a parent to breast cancer.
- Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship. If you have been affected by any type of cancer or have a family member that has survived or died from any cancer type, you can receive a $4,000 scholarship help.
- The Canuso Foundation. It is an award that helps students financially when a family member is battling any type of cancer.
- Christine B Foundation Scholarship. You can receive up to a $2,000 award if you have a family member battling cancer. Provide a 1,000-word essay on the topic provided.
Most importantly, as you are looking for scholarships or any help with your education as a cancer patient or a survivor, remember that you have a legal right for help and that it is still possible to study and continue with your life. If you have a parent or a sibling fighting cancer, remember that you can get assistance as well.
We are sincerely hoping that our guide will help you to find relevant information and will bring a positive vibe to your life as you fight and resist this terrible disease. We realize that our contribution is only minor, yet we worked hard to provide you with helpful resources. Stay safe, never give up, and may you win the battle!