Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Awareness Month April 2023
Throughout April we’ll be sharing stories from young people about the impact of cancer on relationships, body image, mental health and fertility – as well as tips on how to cope with the challenges these bring.
Teenage Cancer Trust is teaming up with 15 other charities supporting young people with cancer across the UK for the first Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Awareness Month this April.
We’re proud to be working together to shine a spotlight on the distinct needs and experiences of young people with cancer, which are so often overlooked.
The young people we support have been telling us about four areas of life where cancer can have an especially big impact for those diagnosed as a teenager or young adult – and where getting the right support can make a big difference.
We’ll be sharing stories and content on these topics week by week throughout the month.
Cancer and relationships
Cancer doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed. It can have a huge impact on family, friends and partners too, and navigating your relationships with the people around you – as well as forming new ones – can be especially challenging when you’re young.
Jordan, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer aged 21, says:
“It’s hard at such a young age when you’ve just figured out your groups and friends, to then have that dramatically changed. When going through cancer, my outlook on life totally changed and I matured so much. This affected the relationships in my life – I found I could no longer relate to them and didn’t feel like I fitted in to some of my friendships and relationships.”
Cancer and body image
Hair loss, weight changes and scarring are just a few possible side effects of cancer treatment. Young people can face these worries about their body at a time when they’re still figuring out who they are and how they want the world to see them.
Perri, who was diagnosed with a type of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma in her breast aged 21, says:
“Having a mastectomy at the age of 22 really made me feel self-conscious and isolated. I struggled for a long time with how I looked and how others perceived me. Body image is so important to me as a topic as it affects nearly every young person diagnosed with cancer. We shouldn’t need to feel ashamed or worried about our bodies as they have been through so much.”
Cancer and mental health
Facing cancer when you’re young can be incredibly tough, both physically and mentally. Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are common among young people with cancer, and the damage can be long-lasting – so getting the right support is vital.
Alex, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma aged 23, says:
“My mental health was affected massively. Everything was building up and I was initially bottling it all up. I felt so thankful that [my Teenage Cancer Trust Nurse] Amanda took time out of her day to listen to me. She also put me in touch with a psychologist who I could talk to if I needed. It helped massively. I would definitely recommend that people find someone to speak to as bottling things up just makes it worse.”
Cancer and fertility
Some cancer treatments can affect fertility. For many young people diagnosed, it may well be the first time they’ve ever had to think about whether they want children of their own. Every young person should get the chance to have an open, honest conversation about fertility preservation options with their clinical team.
Amy, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma aged 23, says:
“The consultant asked if I’d thought about the future and having children. Me and my boyfriend had only been together a year and a half and we hadn’t had that conversation. I decided to freeze my eggs because I didn’t know what the future held. I was diagnosed on the Tuesday, and on the Thursday I was having a fertility consultation. That whole week was so overwhelming, it all happened so quickly and there was so much going on I hardly had time to think about it.”
About Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Awareness Month
The charities who are taking part in Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Awareness Month are: Teenage Cancer Trust, Trekstock, Dragonfly Cancer Trust, Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), Cancer Research UK, Ellen Macarthur Cancer Trust, Brain Tumour Research, Young Lives vs Cancer, Sarcoma UK, Little Princess Trust, Bone Cancer Research Trust, Solving Kids Cancer, Teens Unite Against Cancer, the Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation, Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer, and Children with Cancer.
Search #TYACAM to follow Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Awareness Month and find out how the charities are raising awareness and how you can get involved this April.