News broke last week that model and disability activist Mama Cax passed away at just 30 years old after a brief stay in the hospital. The inspirational model, whose full name was Cacsmy Brutus, had both lung and bone cancer, yet was able to find international fame in the fashion world even after the cancer battle caused her to lose a leg.
Mama Cax modeled for massive brands like Sephora and Tommy Hilfiger and, most recently, Rihanna’s new Savage x Fenty line. But far more importantly, she used her situation for good as an advocate for people with disabilities. She showed the world that you can be bold and beautiful despite any adversities you faced.
A queen. A force. A powerhouse beauty that brought her strength to the @savagexfenty stage this year inspiring so many across the globe. Rest In Power sis ✊???????? @mama_cax pic.twitter.com/Nq43DoJZb9Read More— Rihanna (@rihanna) December 20, 2019
As tragic as her passing is, that it came during the holiday season may mean even more pain and sorrow for loved ones who had hoped to have her at their side. Unfortunately, Mama Cax’s is not the only story of a young adult with cancer that’s been in the news of late. Others are also dealing with the disease, and there is perhaps no harder time to do so than during this celebratory season. Yet, like Mama Cax, they seem full of grace and good humor, and supporters are responding with love and admiration.
News that the Philadelphia Flyers’ star 23-year-old forward Oskar Lindblom has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma shocked the NHL community earlier this month. Love has been pouring in for the Sweden-native ever since the team announced his diagnosis on Dec. 13 — and explained that his treatment will begin shortly.
Even though Lindblom is likely sidelined for the rest of the season, according to the Flyers, he went to practice before a game last week to show support for his teammates — and was met with a massive outpouring of love from fans, who have adopted the hashtag #OskarStrong.
Wells Fargo Arena, where the Flyers play, aired a tribute to the young player during the game last week, and handed out, “I fight for Oskar” signs that fans could use to show their support. Heartwarming images were captured of everyone in the entire stadium on their feet, sending Lindblom their love and prayers. The Flyers also set up two huge billboards and let fans write their well-wishes for Lindblom on them.
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Lindblom took to Instagram to thank fans a few days later, writing, “The last week has been very challenging for me, but I’m so happy for all the love and strength you all are giving me on this journey. The support has been unreal and we are so thankful for everything.”
It has been widely reported that Joe Biden’s press secretary, TJ Ducklo, 31, announced over the weekend that he has advanced lung cancer. He said that as a result he’s been less active politically, but also assured his nearly 12,000 Twitter followers that he will continue to work on former Vice President Biden’s campaign for as long as he is able.
“Some upsetting news to share & explanation for why I’ve been MIA recently: after a bunch of tests, I’ve been diagnosed w/ metastatic lung cancer. Which sucks a lot. I’m starting treatment Monday, & my doctors — who have been incredible — believe we can get this into remission,” Ducklo wrote in his announcement.
“The outpouring of support and encouragement I’ve already received from family, colleagues and friends has been overwhelming in the best way, and has already made me feel like I have an army behind me to fight this piece of shit disease. It was never a question whether I’d continue working during treatment — working for Joe Biden and this campaign has been the best, most important experience of my life,” he continued throughout a series of tweets.
Biden, who lost his son Beau to cancer in 2015, was quick to share his press secretary’s post and offer his prayers, as well as the support of the whole Biden family.
— TJ Ducklo (@TDucklo) December 21, 2019
Even Biden’s competitors in the Democratic primary, like Cory Booker and Andrew Yang, were quick to offer their well wishes to Ducklo.
“Sending you good energy and looking forward to seeing you out on the trail,” Booker wrote, along with a video of him wishing the young press secretary well.
“All the best to you and your family TJ. You can beat this,” Yang wrote.
Ducklo assured his Twitter followers that he would be back to working on Biden’s campaign “full speed” as soon as possible.
When people in early adulthood are facing cancer, the disease presents a unique set of challenges — such as interruptions to a blossoming career or relationship — that can be really difficult to navigate.
The Challenges for Young Adults with Cancer
In a past interview, SurvivorNet spoke with Matthew Zachary, a cancer survivor who founded the non-profit Stupid Cancer, about the unique challenges that young adults with cancer face. While many medical professionals specialize in helping children or older people with cancer, Zachary explained that in his experience, finding a doctor that can really cater to a young person’s needs was tough.
When he was facing brain cancer as a 21-year-old college student, he noticed a real lack of resources for people in his situation — that’s how he got into advocacy. Matthew also said advocacy is the way to achieve that doctor-patient relationship so many people are looking for.