Ready to study?

Whether you used to love school or spent your lessons watching the clock, you’ve probably found yourself actually quite missing it. Your studies are a big part of your life (and social life), after all. If you’ve been away for a while, the thought of going back might make you feel excited, or nervous, or both. But by staying in touch, preparing for your return and not putting too much pressure on yourself, it’ll soon feel like you’ve never been away.

Staying in touch

It can help to try and keep up with some work even if you’re not able to stay at school, college or uni full-time during treatment. Doing things you’re used to doing can help you feel more positive, and so can staying in touch with your teachers, tutors and the people in your classes. Chat to your tutors about what it’s possible for you to do, and try to avoid taking on too much and stressing yourself out.

Before you go back

It’s a good idea to visit your school, college or uni before you go back, so you can let your teachers know how you’re doing and how they can help. If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can always ask your parents or a friend to go with you or to go instead.

You might also like to ask your teachers to talk to your class before you go back, so people have an idea of how your treatment has gone. It can help you avoid having to answer the same questions a thousand times.

We’ve developed a wide range of lesson plans, quizzes and games your teacher can use to help people learn about cancer. Visit our Learning Hub to see what’s available.

Your first day back

Like a lot of things, your first day back usually seems a lot worse in your head than it actually turns out to be. Sure, you might find that some people stare at you or seem a bit awkward. But you’ll also probably find that lots of people are really happy to have you back.

It’s a good idea to arrange to meet a friend before school, because arriving with someone else might help you feel a bit less self-conscious.

And if you look a bit different after your treatment and are worried about how people might react, you could arrange to meet up with a few people before you go back. Try to remember, too, that everyone will get used to how you look now very quickly.

If anyone does make nasty comments, try not to react. As well as being idiots, they’re probably just nervous or confused about cancer. And if it carries on, let someone know – dealing with bullies isn’t something you need on your mind.

Keeping up

If you struggle to keep up with your work at first, don’t worry. You might have missed a lot. Your treatment might have affected your ability to concentrate. You might just feel exhausted. However you feel, your teachers will understand – and your classes will get easier as time passes. The most important thing right now is that you keep focusing on your health.

If you know you’re going to miss classes because of appointments, you could:

  • Ask a friend to take notes for you
  • Get the teacher to email you with any work you miss
  • Talk to your teacher about which work is most important, so you can focus on that.

Special arrangements

If you’ve got exams coming up, you might be able to apply for various ‘access arrangements’. This can cover things like being given extra time or having someone to write for you during an exam.

Similarly, you might be able to get ‘special consideration’. That basically means your individual circumstances are taken into account when your paper is being marked.

Lots of people apply for access arrangements and special consideration every year, for all kinds of reasons. It can help to take some of the pressure off when you’ve had a difficult experience. It’s not a blag and it doesn’t make your mark worth any less – it’s just recognition that you’ve not been able to study as much as you’d normally be able to.

Who to talk to

If you’ve got concerns about your studies or you’re struggling to keep up, try not to keep it to yourself. It might help to talk to:

  • Your teachers, who are there to support you as well as teach you
  • Your school, college or university counsellor, which might sound like a scary option, but really isn’t – it’s someone who’s trained to listen and help you deal with problems
  • Your parents, who can talk to teachers if you’d rather not and might be able to help you get extra support
  • The people taking care of you, including doctors, nurses, social workers and youth workers, who might have some helpful ideas on how to cope with studying
  • Your friends, who might be able to help you keep up, or might just be the perfect people to open up to about your feelings.

For more support and advice, contact the Teenage Cancer Trust education team.

There are plenty of other organisations who can help too: