YCE's Nicola Unterecker speaks at the European Commission's World Mental Health Day Conference - Youth Cancer Europe (YCE)

YCE’s Nicola Unterecker speaks at the European Commission’s World Mental Health Day Conference

On October 10, Youth Cancer Europe’s patient advocate Nicola Unterecker, took the stage at the European Commission’s World Mental Health Day Conference, hosted by Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. 

This event brought together EU institution representatives, national government officials, passionate patient advocates, and international organizations, all united in their commitment to addressing critical mental health issues.

During the event, attendees engaged in discussions concerning three essential topics:

Mental Health Across All Policies
Promotion & Prevention
Equal Access for All

In her heartfelt speech, Nicola Unterecker shared her personal journey as a young cancer survivor, shedding light on the challenging aspects of life after treatment: “surviving cancer at a young age is a whole different battle altogether. Once treatment finishes, reality hits like a truck. The support system we had during treatments evaporates into thin air. Once on a battlefield, our body starts to heal, but our mind grapples with the aftermath. We find ourselves face-to-face with cancer’s profound impact on our lives.”
Nicki talked about the unseen burden of cancer survivorship, a topic we addressed in our 2018 White Paper when we discussed the short-term and long-term mental health problems and all the psychological effects that are often not recognized by healthcare professionals and are therefore not treated adequately.

Mental Health is one of the priorities set out in our White Paper, calling for action on Financial Discrimination, Cross-Border Healthcare, Fertility Preservation, and more. Read the full White Paper HERE.

Nicki also talked about how she discovered Youth Cancer Europe, the community she never asked to be a part of, but that has become her strength to help her not just to survive but thrive. “In 2019, amidst battling a relapse, I had the privilege of meeting Katie Rizvi, the co-founder of Youth Cancer Europe. My encounter with this phenomenal group of individuals from so many different countries and social backgrounds changed everything. The energy and passion they radiated left me in awe and they welcomed me with open arms, reminding me I wasn’t alone. Instead, we shared an unbreakable bond, fueled by the desire for a better future. As the years went by, our group flourished, our voices grew loud, and our projects expanded. Today, I stand here as living proof that cancer does not define us; it unites us. It brings us together in ways we never thought possible. And with organizations like Youth Cancer Europe and the European Network of Youth Cancer Survivors, we are not only surviving, but thriving” said Nicola Unterecker. 

Watch Nicola’s full speech here

Nicola Unterecker’s presence at the European Commission’s World Mental Health Day Conference served as a reminder of how imperative it is to address and advocate for affordable and accessible mental health support.