What you need to know

Cancer Advisor
December 1, 2017

If you’re a teenager or young adult and have just found out you have cancer, you probably have all sorts of things going round in your head.

The issues facing 14-25 year olds with cancer can be very different to those that younger children or older adults deal with. Getting a list of questions together about what you want to know, and who you want to talk to first, is often a good start.

Knowledge is power

There are lots of different types of cancer and ways of treating them. So it’s important you find out about your cancer type and the treatment options you have. Some good places to find out about cancer types and treatment are here and here.  You might also be wondering what hospital’s like and what to expect in the first few weeks – check out this article as a starting point.

When asking about treatments, be sure to understand the risk of any side effects that might be involved. Some treatments can affect your fertility, so it’s a good idea to ask about this early on.

Remember that anything you read online is general information; your medical team will be able to tell you what’s relevant to you. However a little research can help you feel more in control and give you an idea of questions you want to ask. It can also help you feel more confident in making decisions.

Family and friends

Lots of people worry about how the people close to them are coping. You may be stressed about your parents’ or your partner’s reactions. Figuring out who to tell and how can be tricky, but bear in mind the more people you have on your support ‘team’, the better. This resource from CanTeen has some good tips about handling relationships and you might also find this thing helpful.

Practical stuff

Although you might be feeling overwhelmed, the world strangely seems to keep on turning. Which means that at some point you’ll need to deal with employers, school, uni or your training institution – this resource provides a guide to your work and study now and into the future. You might also need to think about how your finances will be affected. Don’t feel like you’ve go to deal with all of this yourself – call on your support team or ask your hospital social worker for help.

You’re not alone

While your family and friends are likely to be your strongest supporters, sometimes it can help to talk to someone you’re not close to. It’s normal to feel strong emotions during an experience like this. Keep in mind there are heaps of services where you can text, email, chat or talk to counsellors that specialise in helping teens and young adults.

Many people have been through what you’re dealing with right now. There are some really strong communities online for young people with cancer. You can ask questions, get involved, or just lurk. There are ways to connect with other young people with cancer over the phone, or in real life. Reading about or talking with people who’ve been through this experience can help ease your worries and make you feel less alone.