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A new resource for teenagers with cancer

BBC, 26th March 2006 When Vishal Joshi was diagnosed with cancer, aged just 14, he wanted to hear positive stories about other young people who had fought the disease. Teenagers like himself, who could tell him about their experiences of Hodgkin's disease and prepare him for what lay ahead. But he found little aimed specifically at his age group. Because of his own experiences, Vishal decided to share his story on special website, youthhealthtalk.org, which has launched this week to help young people learn about their health from their peers.

Dr Ann McPherson, medical director and co-founder of the Dipex site, said she hoped that as well as giving support and information to the users the site, which includes videotapes and over 30 testimonies from young people, could also act as an educational tool for health professionals.

Children's author and supporter Philip Pullman agreed. He said that, although personal testimonies were not a replacement for medical care, that they were an important addition. "True stories are not the best medicine, but they are nutritious and sustaining. They feed the mind with information and the heart with hope and strength. Nature and medical science together can do a great deal to help our bodies and minds heal themselves, but the real experiences of others who have been through the same troubles gives us the nourishment that sustains us in the meantime," he said.

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