Exploring the Experiences of University Students with a History of Cancer: A Pilot Study
This exploratory pilot study aims to provide preliminary data describing the experiences of university student cancer survivors, quantify their connection to the campus Disability Resource Center, and assess the feasibility of conducting research with this population. In this descriptive study of cancer survivor students at one large university in the southwestern U.S., online survey respondents with a history of cancer (N = 19) reported cognitive, emotional, and physical limitations that affected their educational experience. The majority (78.9%) of our participants were children, adolescents, or young adults (up to age 39) when diagnosed with cancer; all others were diagnosed between 40 and 60 years old. We found that students living with cancer have short- and long-term impairments, including memory issues that made academic performance difficult. These effects led some students to cope individually while others sought support from institutional entities or instructors. Here we document survivor experiences and propose next steps in research, which includes an intervention that builds on our preliminary findings and uses the positive deviance model.
KeywordsHigher education Disability services Cognitive impairments Physical impairments Cancer survivorship
We want to thank the students who responded to our online survey in which they shared their concerns and experiences with cancer.
Dr. Armin’s work on this project was supported by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities – University Affiliated Programs, Grant No. 90DD0822-02-00.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The University of Arizona Institutional Review Board approved this project and deemed it exempt.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- 3.Institute of Medicine (2006) From cancer patient to cancer survivor: lost in transition (ed) Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies. The National Academies Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
- 4.Quinn GP, et al (2015) Quality of life in adolescent and young adult cancer patients: a systematic review of the literature. Patient related outcome measures. 6:19Google Scholar
- 5.Kirchhoff AC, Fowler B, Warner EL, Pannier ST, Fair D, Spraker-Perlman H, Yancey J, Bott B, Reynolds C, Randall RL (2017) Supporting adolescents and young adults with cancer: oncology provider perceptions of adolescent and young adult unmet needs. J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol 6(4):519–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 6.Bellizzi KM, Smith A, Schmidt S, Keegan TH, Zebrack B, Lynch CF, Deapen D, Shnorhavorian M, Tompkins BJ, Simon M, Adolescent and Young Adult Health Outcomes and Patient Experience (AYA HOPE) Study Collaborative Group (2012) Positive and negative psychosocial impact of being diagnosed with cancer as an adolescent or young adult. Cancer 118(20):5155–5162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 8.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018) Disability overview: impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/disability.html. Accessed 16 Feb 2018
- 9.Cancer Legal Resource Center (2015) Higher education accommodations and student loan forgiveness. Available from: http://cancerlegalresources.org/2016/01/29/higher-education-accommodation-student-loan-forgiveness/. Accessed 16 Feb 2018
- 10.Gaddis LR (2010) Helping parents understand cancer in children and young adults: parents’ guide to meeting the educational needs of their child with cancer. In: Marshall C (ed) Surviving cancer as a family and helping co-survivors thrive. ABC-CLIO, LLC, Santa BarbaraGoogle Scholar
- 11.Weiner SL, Simone JV (2003) Childhood cancer survivorship : improving care and quality of life. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
- 15.Bricker JT, et al (2011) Adults with childhood illnesses: considerations for practice. Berlin De GruyterGoogle Scholar
- 17.Strausera DR et al (2015) Career development of young adult cancer survivors:a conceptual framework. J0 Vocat Rehabil 42:167–176Google Scholar
- 19.Administration for Community Living (2017) History of the DD Act. [cited 2019 March 15]; Available from: https://acl.gov/about-acl/history-dd-act