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Teens – My Cancer Diagnosis

You are in one of the most fast-paced and dramatic phases of your life – you’ve figured out, or are about to, that being a teenager is no joke!

You don’t know your own body anymore, “stranger things” are happening every day; your emotions are all over the place and if you are a guy, your voice too! You are trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in, to stand up for yourself, but you also doubt yourself. Being a teen is full of seeming contradictions.

You are just trying to fit in, be “normal”, stay under the radar and get on with it, when suddenly you are told, “You have cancer”.

Wasn’t life challenging enough already? Not to mention family dynamics and school work…

What about your dreams and plans…

What now!


…it is going to be okay…

Slowly breathe deeply in through your nose, fill your lungs with air and then slowly breathe out through your mouth. Repeat this a few times.

Remind yourself…

You are not alone.

You don’t need to figure out everything yourself and if your doctor has confirmed you have cancer, help is on the way…

Image Credit: Freepik

What now?

Find Information in the Right Places

1) Don’t believe everything Dr Google or your friends or distant relatives or everyone who suddenly has an opinion has to say about the type of cancer you have or how to treat it.

2) Everyone is different and people respond in different ways to treatment.

3) Trust your oncologist and medical team to guide you and your parents in the right way.

4) If you feel up to it, prepare some questions to ask your oncologist before the next appointment. Find examples of questions you could ask your oncologist and frequently asked questions by teens, to give you peace of mind and to help you to feel part of the treatment plan.

5) Don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand – cancer terms can be daunting, but it is important that you know what is going on. This will help you feel more in control during a very uncertain time.

6) Remember that you, your parents or guardians are entitled to a second opinion if you are not comfortable with your oncologist’s treatment plan.

Draw Inspiration from Others Who Have Walked a Similar Path

Mariska Schultz

Mariska Schultz, cancer Survivor, “I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was 15 years old. As any teenager would, I was uncertain about what this disease is. I could see by the tears and fear in my parents’ eyes that it wasn’t anything good.

At age 15, one has rarely heard about the big C word, never mind chemo and radiation therapy. I began my journey as a very uncertain girl surrounded by doctors, nurses, concerned family members, and friends. I was often referred to as “the girl with cancer”, because how often does a high school girl get cancer?”

Mariska is a young adult now and she is thriving.

There is hope to overcome this disease!

Read Mariska’s full story of hope and others for encouragement.

Reach Out For Support

“A diagnosis of cancer is devastating for anyone, but teens are also coming to terms with rapidly changing life circumstances… and a diagnosis of cancer puts everything on hold. They struggle to manage themselves while their lives are threatened. There are high rates of depression among teen patients, but it’s often undiagnosed.” (Dr Jennifer Geel)

It may be tempting to isolate yourself from loved ones, fellow learners and friends. Cancer is a lot to deal with.

Know that many teens struggle to come to grips with the reality of their diagnosis and challenges of treatment. You are going to take a knock emotionally and mentally. You will need support to help you through.

Please don’t delay, the strongest people are not always the ones who seem to cope with everything without help from others. Many times the strongest people have had a little bit of help along the way…

Do you have a question?
Book a counselling session

CANSA Tele Counselling

 0800 22 6622 Toll Free
 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans
 071 867 3530 Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Siswati


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