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Young Adults – My Cancer Diagnosis

Finally, school is behind you and you are about to start work or further studies towards your future career of choice. You are understanding what you want out of life better than when you were a teen and you are excited about what the future may hold for you in terms of dating and potentially meeting a long-term romantic partner. You are becoming more independent daily, if you have not already left your parents’ home, to make your own way in the world.

If you have been a young adult for a few years you may even have found “the one” – the person you’d like to settle down with or raise a family with. Perhaps your career path is becoming clearer and you are ready to advance and climb the ladder to success in your chosen work environment.

You are working and dreaming hard, when suddenly you are told, “You have cancer”.

All your goals, dreams and plans shatter, treatment may be costly forcing you to sacrifice your independence and move in with your parents again. You are not sure how your partner or your child will take the news. Will they stay with you? Will they cope if they stay with you?

Your diagnosis is a shock to your system – surely only older people get cancer?

Where is your carefully planned roadmap to success?

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 loved ones 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 young adults, 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 you are entitled to a second opinion if you are not comfortable with your oncologist’s treatment plan.

7) Read our CANSA Fact Sheet: Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis

Draw Inspiration from Others Who Have Walked a Similar Path

Naniki Seboni (photographer: Zahira Amod)

When Naniki Seboni was a 22 year old university student, she discovered a mole on her leg. Two years later it was confirmed as maligant melanoma.

Naniki was dumbstruck that she had cancer, but especially that she had skin cancer. She thought only white people got skin cancer.

For six months after her diagnosis Naniki didn’t go for treatment as she was paralysed by fear. Eventually she joined our CANSA Facebook Support Group for adult cancer patients and loved ones.

Naniki said, “I was overwhelmed by the response and the encouragement to go for treatment from group members. So, I finally went to the hospital.”

Today Naniki is an ambassador for several cancer organisations raising awareness of the symptoms of cancer and encouraging those with cancer not to give up the fight.

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

Reach Out For Support

A cancer diagnosis is devastating, especially when you are young.

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

Know that many young adults 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

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 0800 22 6622 Toll Free
 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans (text only)
 071 867 3530 isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Setswana and Sepedi (text only)


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1931 - 2021. 90 Year Anniversary

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