Messages to other young people with cancer

We asked those that we interviewed what messages or advice they would give to other young people who were newly diagnosed with cancer and facing treatment. Although having cancer can change your life many pointed out that (perhaps not surprisingly) it’s not always all bad. Those we interviewed met new, supportive, helpful and generally nice people, had some good positive experiences and frequently came out feeling a stronger person. Several people said that you’ll feel better if you try and stay positive. If a person can remain upbeat it also makes it easier for friends and family to cope. However, there will also be times when they feel scared and desperate and they should always be aware that they can talk to others about these feelings. Here are some of the other general observations about what people found helpful;

  • Don’t lose hope - most cancers are treatable - you just have to live through having it treated.  
  • Ask for information if you want it - being well informed and learning about what’s going to happen helps you feel in control. 
  • Don’t worry that you behave differently and sometimes not to cleverly when you are scared - everyone does it. 
  • It can get scary really quick but it is best to do what the doctors advise if you possibly can. 
  • Try and find someone you are at ease with about talking about your inner feelings - it's not always easy but it’s very much worth doing. 
  • Try to understand how hard it may be for some of your friends and family to know how to respond to you having cancer - they may need a bit of help in this! 
  • If you sometimes feel that you’re being selfish don’t worry too much as your friends and family will understand. 
  • Focus on what is important - try not to let your worries ruin all your life. 
  • Try finding a way of coping (using humour, talking to lots of people, being positive) that works for you. 

Advice about what was helpful during treatment

The young people we interviewed often offered advice about how to cope during treatment, particularly chemotherapy (also see 'Chemotherapy’). The advice was that you should not dread the chemotherapy but should always stick with the idea that it is a treatment and it will do you good. It was also important to look after yourself, including trying to eat healthily, staying as strong and fit as possible and avoiding stress wherever possible. 

  • If you are hurting then talk to a doctor or nurse. 
  • If the anti-sickness drugs don’t work ask for another sort. 
  • Cut your hair short rather than letting it fall out. 
  • Always remember that the nurses are there for you if you need help. 
  • Try to keep occupied & find distractions - music, reading, painting, films can all help. 
  • Remember how great life will be after the treatment has finished - enjoy the new perspective you have.  

Advice about what helped after treatment

It was repeatedly stressed how important it was to keep track of how well or ill you are feeling - but not to get obsessed by it. When in remission you need to be aware of what signs and symptoms of reoccurrence you should look out for and then act fast if you get any do occur, but at the same time you really, really need to get back to normal life. 

  • Tell your doctor if you’re worried about something - they won’t think it’s trivial. 
  • Keep a list of side effects of your treatment and the dates on which they occur so as to be able to show it to your doctor. 
  • Even if cancer does come back it doesn’t mean you can’t be cured with further treatment. 
  • There is a huge and amazing network of charities, doctors and nurses behind you.

Last reviewed December 2017.

Last updated November 2014.


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