ST. LOUIS - When a kid has cancer, it’s tough for all involved. When that child is a teen or young adult receiving treatment in a pediatric setting, it can make them feel out of place.
Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients, ages 15-29, are often overlooked when it comes to organizations offering support and gifts to young patients with cancer. Enter the Matt Cwiertny Memorial Foundation and the Matt’s Mixed Tape program.
Matt Cwiertny, an AYA cancer patient who lost his battle at age 24, had a passion and love for music. It was his escape. His family started Matt Cwiertny Memorial Foundation to focus on medical research and quality of life initiatives for AYA patients.
In February 2013, the Foundation launched Matt’s Mixed Tape program on Matt’s birthday at UCLA’s Daltrey/Townshed Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program. The program, which offers iPod Nanos filled with donated music to AYA patients, is now coming to Mercy St. Louis.
“We recognized a need to offer quality of life support to AYA cancer patients,” said Christine Cwiertny, president of the Foundation and Matt's older sister. “It’s exciting to expand the reach of our program and help patients at Mercy Children’s Hospital.”
Mercy Children’s is only the second location in the country to offer Matt’s Mixed Tape program to patients.
“Adolescent and young adult patients diagnosed with cancer face a unique struggle as they are forced to confront their own mortality at a time when their peers are discovering independence and feeling invincible. The cancer battle occurs on many fronts, including not just the physical but also the psychological, emotional, and spiritual realms of their lives,” said Dr. Robin Hanson, pediatric oncologist with Mercy Children’s and Cardinals Kids Cancer Center. “Music is a medium that can touch all of these, and the gift of music generously provided by the Matt’s Mixed Tape program will be an incredible source of healing for our young patients with cancer.”