When You Have Cancer


There’s no “right” way to feel when you’re diagnosed with cancer. You may be sad, overwhelmed, lonely, angry and confused – all at the same time. But remember, you’re not alone! Many other teens are also dealing with cancer.

Dealing with Feelings
Many people are uncomfortable sharing their feelings. Holding your feelings inside might prevent you from getting the help you may really need.

Try these tips to help deal with your feelings:

  • Talk with your close friends and family members
  • Keep a journal and express your feelings through writing 
  • Join a support group. Check out the support groups offered at RPCI: http://www.roswellpark.org/support-groups
  • Meet with your doctor or a counselor for guidance and advice

Dealing with Treatment
Your health and energy may change because of the new treatments and drugs you take. If you feel uncomfortable, tired or sick, be open and talk to your parents or your doctor. Also, stay positive! People with cancer can still lead active lives. Play a sport, dance to your favorite song and keep in touch with friends. Being happy will help you stay healthy.

Other ways to keep healthy:

  • Get 8 hours of sleep a night
  • Listen to music
  • Have a dance party with your friends
  • Exercise, play a sport, go for a walk or run
  • Paint, take pictures or keep a journal 
  • Meditate or pray 
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Eat healthy foods and drink 6-8 glasses of water every day \
  • During treatment, many patients lose their hair and see changes in their weight. Your new look may be different, but you’re still the same person you always were. If your classmates at school look at you differently, talk to your teacher or your parents about it. Sometimes, reminding your classmates who you are may help. Try saying, “I’m (name), remember?”

Growing Stronger as a Family
There are many ways families can grow stronger during hard times. Teens see their families grow closer through:

  • Asking others for help
  • Putting themselves in the other person's shoes 
  • Understanding that even though family members cope differently, they are all hurting.
  • Communicating and talking through their feelings.

You and your family may need support from others. It can be hard to ask, but most of the time, people are more willing to help. Here are some people you may ask for help:

  • Aunts, uncles, grandparents and in-laws
  • Family friends
  • Neighbors
  • Teachers or coaches
  • School nurses or guidance counselors
  • People from your religious community
  • Your friends or their parents