In July, we hosted our annual TYAC conference in partnership with research programme, BRIGHTLIGHT to share the latest research, news and treatment methods, amongst some of the leading experts in Teenage and Young Adult Cancer care across the UK. Here, a delegate of the conference, shares her experience of the two-day event.

'Hi I’m Becky and I am a TYAC member’ is the new way to introduce myself - just one of the many learning points I have taken away from the TYAC BRIGHTLIGHT Conference!

As a third-year child and adult dual-field student nurse and an aspiring clinical academic, I had the true pleasure of being able to attend the TYAC BRIGHTLIGHT Conference in Leeds on the 6th/7th July 2017.

As someone who is early in their career but has a real passion to improve the quality of life of teenagers and young adults living with and beyond cancer, including those nearing the end of their life, I was truly inspired by every moment of the two days.

The conference included a variety of speakers talking about a range of subjects with plenty of opportunity for interaction. All aspects of care appeared to be explored, including diagnosis, treatment, end of life care and late-effects follow up. There were regular breaks throughout the day, allowing time for networking and viewing of the abstract posters on various topics.

The conference started with the TYAC AGM and it was interesting to hear about the background and recent developments of the charity, as well as the challenges it faces. What struck me most was the commitment of the trustees and members to achieving their vision of ‘all teenagers and young adults with cancer in the UK receiving the best possible treatment and support’.

This commitment was also demonstrated in the talks surrounding the BRIGHTLIGHT study given throughout the two days. As a patient and public representative, I was so encouraged by the high level of patient involvement throughout the study. BRIGHTLIGHT appears to have truly given a voice to those who are living with cancer and has listened and responded to this with energy and compassion.

The emerging findings were also exciting and the obvious tenacity and resilience of the whole team was incredible. Their honesty, openness and willingness to receive feedback demonstrated their commitment to making this project the best it can be and to help others who are researching within this field.

Another highlight for me was the keynote speech on evidence-based practice, as this was very informative and entertaining and made some complex concepts accessible. The speaker had great passion for the field and I am sure some of the learning points I have taken away will support me throughout my career. ‘When cure is not likely’ was the final talk of day one and this also stood out to me as it was delivered in a very sensitive way and highlighted the importance of both hope and the concept of normality.

Day two began with an informative presentation on communicating with young people before several short showcase presentations. Each and every one of these was well delivered and provided a unique insight into a specific area.

Two of the presentations that particularly resonated with me were “#cancercosts: The mental health impact of cancer on teenagers and young adults” and “Remembering Friends: Bereavement Support for Teenage and Young Adults experiencing the loss of a peer”. These highlighted the wide-reaching impact cancer can have on an individual and gave some helpful applications to practice, ranging from access to internet through to having space to grieve after the loss of a friend.

The conference ended in the most appropriate way with a short reflection from a very inspiring patient representative, whose insight and comments truly showed why developing this area is so important. Overall, the conference has left me encouraged by the research that is already having a significant impact on the lives of young people with cancer and even more motivated and passionate about continuing to improve the experience of this group!

I would like to thank all members of the conference for making me feel so welcome and for their energy and commitment to this area, I truly do look up to you all.