How do young people deal with a cancer diagnosis?

The world certainly seems to start speeding up, when you are diagnosed with cancer! It also makes you slightly selfish, as it is all consuming, and  difficult at times, to see anything other than your own health issues. My areas of work, mean that I meet some very interesting people, either face to face or online, and very frequently a conversation will really make me think about other peoples problems.

My ‘light bulb’ moment was about a year ago, when I was guest speaker at a support group meeting. The regular members were ‘silver surfers’ much like myself, but a young lady who was newly diagnosed, was attending for the first time. I was able to speak to her briefly afterwards, but although her diagnosis was the same as the other members, her problems were very different.

You regulars, will know that I work very closely with my hospital charity, and in recent months I have met people with children, diagnosed with cancer in our hospital.Having spoken to those people, and also health professionals I am starting to understand some of the problems that they face. Even during a fund raising evening, I was approached by parents who’s son had been diagnosed with a cancer similar to mine, seeking advice, as they were struggling with his issues.

This got me thinking, and looking around in every cancer environment I enter. Wherever I go, be it hospital, clinic, having treatment, or even surfing  websites, everything I see is adult orientated. Obviously, I am not referring to specialist children’s wards or hospitals, but more general areas.Maybe it is that I am not involved with younger peoples care directly, so I won’t see it, but just looking around I see very few facilities that might be young adult friendly.

Even things like going for treatment. I have spent a big chunk of my time having some form of maintenance in hospital. You very quickly form a bond with your fellow patients, mostly because we all have very similar stories.If you are at uni or similar, I can see that it might be difficult for you.

Relationships, appearance, education, dealing with treatment, even down to trying to find someone who is going through similar things to you, are all very difficult when you are young.Who can you talk to?

Well, we know that it might not be perfect, but we have social media! Through this blog, I now connect up with people in every country in the world.I have learned many things since I have been writing but the main thing is that we all have a common bond, and that is cancer. No one cares, about your sex, colour, religion or age, and why should they?

On this platform, you can be yourself, or anonymous. you can contribute or not. Join the blog or follow at your leisure, the choice is entirely yours. There are no awkward questions, to answer, and no talks to do. That is the beauty of this medium. Together with Twitter, we are managing to reach a lot of people, including a younger audience, and help remove that feeling of isolation that we have all encountered.

The way that support is required these days is changing dramatically. We are used to having things, as and when we want them, generally in the palm of our hand.Social media can provide an element of support, as and when you need it. It can be a great tool for signposting you to either information, or a fellow patient, thousands of miles away

From my experience, young people are generally very proficient in their use of social media and to most it is second nature, it therefore seems logical to use it to offer various forms of support, of which this blog is only one.

I am very happy to announce that we have been selected as a resource for the Youth Cancer Trust  and I look forward to welcoming some of our younger readers to hopefully share some experiences with the community.

If you feel that you would like to share,young or old, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I am always around on Twitter, or feel free to leave a comment

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Hello.
    I was led here by LivingBeyondDiagnosis on twitter. I was having a skim-read and was particularly interested by this post so gave it a proper read.
    Let me introduce myself. My name is Samantha, I am 19 years old, I live in the North West, I am unemployed and dropped out of university, I like all sorts of music and I have Hodgkins Lymphoma.
    If I was reading that as a different cancer patient the only part that would encourage me to talk to myself would be the fact that I was a fellow sufferer? (Are you following? If not, I’m sure you’ve heard of chemo brain – I’m sure I have it)
    I have a blog on tumblr, originally it was a platform for friends and family to follow my journey through cancer if they wanted to without clogging up my facebook too much. From this blog though I have made a handful of friends, none of whom I have met as they live in various countries but we all get to moan to each other about how awful this experience is.
    Even other patients who don’t have hodgkins are leaving me messages now, I talk to terminal patients and patients in remission and it is a wonderful feeling to be able to moan incessantly to people who are going through the same thing.
    Before I set up my blog I felt like every time I would talk to my friends about it, it was more interesting for them (or distressing).
    The point of my comment is to let you know that you are completely right that thanks to social media, us young adults are able to find a
    release during our treatment.
    Through the teenage cancer trust and clic sargent I have been assigned a social worker and a psychologist to ensure I’m looked after other than just my treatment. And thanks to a random visit to the macmillan office in my hospital I was put into contact with someone who worked there that was my age that had the same diagnosis as me and since then we have become quite good friends – so it is not just the social media that can give you an outlet, many charities are willing to help and the more young people that go to them the more young people that they can go to.
    Now a quick link for anyone who would like to read my blog or leave me a message. sam-fighter-lightyear.tumblr.com
    Thank you for reading and Chris, thank you for posting.

  2. Hi Samantha

    Firstly, many thanks for dropping by, and taking the time to share your story. It is a perfect example of what I am talking about re Social Media. We can be in contact with people around the world, at the touch of a button. Obviously, this isn’t a replacement for person to person contact, but can complement it very well.

    I love your blog, and will happily share your link. This is what it is all about. Your story is invaluable to our readers, and am sure it will stimulate thoughts about their own lives, as you have touched on some very important aspects.

    Very pleased to hear that you were able to find help through the larger youth charities.As you rightly point out, there is help out there, but a common problem, with young and old alike, is that many people find it very difficult to come to terms with their issues, and therefore don’t feel encouraged to talk about them.

    That is why what you are doing with your peers is so valuable.I am very happy to do anything I can to help, and is why I am working with some youth organisations, as I feel that this is an area where the issues are very understated.

    I would like to wish you well with your treatment, and if you feel up to it, I have a couple of ideas, where we could help each others work. Maybe you could contact me through Twitter @christheeagle1

    Really great to hear from you, and look forward to welcoming you back soon.

    Check out Sam’s inspirational blog! http://sam-fighter-lightyear.tumblr.com/