Kelly Ambrose

Defining the unique issues and needs of young-adult cancer survivors

Project manager Kelly Ambrose arrived at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Survivorship Program in 2012 to head up LIVESTRONG-funded research specifically aimed at identifying best practices to help young adult survivors of cancer.

"My goal is to get 3,000 participants for this study of an underserved population – that is, cancer survivors age 18 to 39," Ambrose said. "Their issues are many, but include insurance coverage, infertility, some of the rarer types of cancer and fear of recurrence."

A young adult herself, Kelly coordinates young-adult survivorship research based at Fred Hutch but involving all seven LIVESTRONG Centers of Excellence sites across the country. Her tasks include data management, organizing recruitment tools and protocols, and connecting with research contacts at the other survivorship centers.

Before coming to Fred Hutch, Kelly had 11 years of experience with nonprofit organizations and in economics and marketing education. "Now I’m learning commonly used medical terms, and how best to communicate with current and former patients," she said.

"Young adults commonly worry about cancer affecting their ability to connect with other people. There are many big, life decisions that impact this population," she said.

"For example, a 20-year-old diagnosed with cancer might have only days to decide on the option of having children someday; a 30-year-old looking for a new job might have to base the decision on which company has the best employee insurance plan."

Kelly says researchers expect information gathered from the young-adult study is likely to help future cancer survivors. "To support this population is a great opportunity and way to make an impact," she said, "especially since cancer is life-changing for this group in particular."