As a parent, I am mourning the loss of Trey Erwin this week. Although I didn't know this family personally, their story — and faith — seemed to capture the hearts of many families across the Mid-South. I happened to mention his passing to my own 17-year-old son, and he immediately knew about the Pray for Trey effort on Facebook. Sadly, the 15-year-old athlete, who played football for Collierville High School, lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on Thursday, July 5th.
A memorial takes place Saturday, July 7th, at Germantown Baptist Church. Family will receive guests from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the service begins at 2.
A video of of Trey and his family, his thick hair stylishly brushed to one side, brings alive the ache that comes with the thought of losing someone so young. What started as a seemingly mundane stomach ache spiraled into every parent's worse nightmare: cancer. Despite the news, the family remained optomistic, telling their story online in a video taped by members of their church, and using social media to spread the word. They were convinced Trey would triumph, and their son fought bravely until the end.
Yet his outcome is not uncommon. Surprisingly, adolescents and young adults face the lowest cancer survival rates, a fact that hasn't changed since 1975. While children now have an 80 percent cure rate, this age group lags far behind. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is working to change that. The organization has partnered with the Lance Armstrong Foundation's LIVESTRONG to launch Focus Under Forty, an education curriculm for doctors, as well as a series of videos for young adults and their families.
For young adults in the midst of college or just starting a career, the diagnosis of cancer can be isolating. Many talk about trying to protect friends or family members from their illness. The objective of the video series is to help kids learn how to better cope with the issues they face. Each video addresses a different topic, including fertility, fear of recurrence and dying, medical expenses and health insurance, body changes, dating and sexuality, pain and swelling, and school and work. You can find the series, Moving Forward: Young Adults with Cancer, here.
"This is a very isolating experience for people in this no-man's land, where their needs aren't care for, or they haven't been in the past," said ASCO President Michael Link, MD, to Memphis Medical News. Link hopes these efforts will help make a difference in the lives of young people. For more information, go to cancer.net.