How will cancer affect me now?

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Many teenagers who are diagnosed with cancer will want to know how their cancer will affect them now. Learn about the types of feelings you may have, what might change in your life and where you can find support.

Key points

  • It is common to feel many different emotions when you are first diagnosed with cancer. Everything you feel is a completely normal reaction.
  • Many things can change when you have cancer including your school life, social life, and the way you look.
  • Your family and your health-care team are there to support you, not only with cancer treatment but with all the other effects of cancer too.

How cancer impacts your life

Cancer and its treatment will likely affect how your body feels and the way it works. The way you feel about your body might change too. Cancer is a disease of the body, but it affects almost every aspect of your life.

When you first learn you have cancer it can feel like your world has turned upside down. You might not even believe it at first. Lots of teenagers describe feeling a lot of different emotions all at once.

  • Shock that cancer is happening to you
  • Scared about what’s going to happen
  • Uncertain about what cancer is and what treatment means
  • Afraid of dying or being sick or in pain
  • Confused and wondering "Why me? Why now?"
  • Worried about the future, your family, your friends, missing school, losing your hair and many other things.

To be sad, worried, scared, nervous, shocked, lonely or even to be angry is normal. You may feel happy and positive one day and sad and angry the next. No matter what you are feeling, know that you are not the only teenager with cancer who feels this way. Just remember that cancer is not your fault and there is no right or wrong way to feel.

A lot of things change when you have cancer. Here are just a few of them.

  • Your family is probably really worried.
  • You might not be able to see your friends as often.
  • You might have to change what you do for fun.
  • You’ll spend way more time in the hospital.
  • Your body might look and feel different and might not work the same way it used to.
  • You’ll probably have to miss school.
  • You may have to leave the town you live in for treatment.
  • You’ll learn more about cancer than you ever wanted to.

One thing that doesn’t change is who you are. You are still the same person you were before cancer.

There will probably be times during the cancer journey when you will feel totally alone and like no one understands you. It’s okay to feel this way sometimes, but try to remember that you are not alone and there are people who care about you and want to understand what you are going through.

Along with your family, your doctors, nurses, social workers and the rest of the health-care team are there to support you. They are trained to look after your body, but they also want to help you with all the other effects of cancer too. This website will talk about many of the effects of cancer and how to deal with them.

Cancer affects almost every part of your life. Cancer is way too much for one person to handle alone.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019