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When Your Parent Has Cancer: A Guide for Teens

  • Posted: 04/12/2011

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The road ahead

It can be hard to stay calm when you aren't sure what the future holds. You may be thinking - will my parent survive cancer? Will the cancer come back? Will life ever be the same? Will I laugh again?

While no one can know the future, there are things you can do to make your life a little more stable:

Keep talking and pulling together as a family. You may find that cancer has drawn you closer together and made you appreciate each other more than ever.

Discover your own needs. Don't let others tell you how you should feel. Allow yourself to cope at your own pace and in your own way.

Remember that you're growing as a person. Many teens say that having a parent with cancer has made them more sympathetic, more responsible, and stronger.

Accept people's help. Right now you may feel lonelier than you ever have in your life. But you are not alone. Family, friends, support groups, neighbors, and counselors are there to lend a helping hand, listen to you, and be there for you.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm so glad that treatment is over. Seeing my stepdad so sick was hard to take. But now that he's back home, well, bedtime is back to 10:00, no more late night TV, I have to say where I'll be and when I'll be home... basically, we're back to the old rules."
- Monica, age 17

Appreciate each day. Many teens who have a parent with cancer say that they learned to see the world more clearly. In time you may come to appreciate things you may have overlooked in the past.

Maybe you have noticed that little things seem to have more meaning for you these days. Take some time to write these thoughts down, even if they seem small:






Unfortunately, no booklet or person can tell you how everything is going to work out. Cancer is tough, and your life may never be quite the same. But in the end, you will get through it. Why? You're strong. And you are capable - even if you don't always feel that way.
"No one knows the story of tomorrow’s dawn."
- Ashanti proverb
"To know the road ahead, ask those coming back."
- Chinese proverb