Helping Teens Stay Teens Through Cancer

Hey guys,
My name is Karmen and I am a five year cancer surivior (PTLD). I am pleased to say I have had no relapses and I am doing quite well! I am currently in my third year of doing a BSc in Nursing and am working on my Advanced Major! Cancer has impacted my life in more ways than one and so I have decided to do my Major in Pediatric Oncology. Considering I was a teen myself going through cancer, chemo, etc., I thought it was fit! My topic is helping teens stay teens throughout their hospital/cancer experience and the nurses role, and was hoping you guys could give me some ideas of what’s important to include. How did you guys feel when newly diagnosed? How did you feel if friends visited and told you stories of what was going on back at school, how did you feel missing school, what were some characteristics of your favorite nurse (likes/dislikes), how did you feel towards your parents/siblings/friends? How did you cope through your experience, what made you strong/fight? How did your life change? How do you live your life now (dwell in your old life?) Some questions as examples!
Anything will help! I really want to write a great paper that will help other teens transition through this time. Thanks guys :)

  • Rosie

    Hi, my name is Rosie and I was diagnosed with a very rare form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in October 2010. It started out as what looked like a black-and-blue-mark just below my left elbow which we found in May 2010. It was removed in mid-October and although my bone marrow is clean I’m going through chemo (ALL-protocal) to be on the safe side.

    How did you guys feel when newly diagnosed?
    I think my situation was different than most. We got my mysterious-looking bruise biopsied and the doc called and told my mom it might be cancer, so I heard a “maybe” diagnosis from my parents, which gave me time to adjust to the idea. After that we had the whole thing removed, and it wasn’t until the biopsy results came back from that that the diagnosis was confirmed and we talked about chemo. It didn’t really strike me as anything lasting until chemo was mentioned.

    How did you feel if friends visited and told you stories of what was going on back at school,

    visiting – as I lost hair and got more visible side effects (acne, round face, etc.) I stopped wanting to see people as much, but I still wanted to keep in contact. Facebook was great for that. I like hearing about school and other things I would have attended. If I was feeling healthy and missing fun things I’d be miserable about it, but since I don’t feel well I know I wouldn’t fully enjoy it. From hearing their stories I feel like I can be more a part of it and keep up with everything that’s been happening.

    how did you feel missing school,
    I miss the classroom atmosphere and discussion, and talking to people who I wasn’t close enough to that they would visit, but were still nice and enjoyed talking to.

    what were some characteristics of your favorite nurse (likes/dislikes)
    my favorite thing about nurses is that they’re close enough to my age that we read the same books and listen to the same music. my favorite nurses are easy to talk to – they aren’t afraid to joke around and tease me, but they also know the answer to any question or how to find it.

    my biggest dislike is nurses that don’t seem competent. it makes me nervous to think they don’t know what the are doing. I also don’t like it when they don’t know my name and use names like “friend” instead. I understand why they do it, but it makes me feel like just another patient, especially if its a nurse I’ve known for a while.

    how did you feel towards your parents/siblings/friends?
    normal – except I worried about the diagnosis affecting how they talked to me/might change how they thought about it/affected them. (ex: is my sister dealing with it? are they just saying that to be nice?)

    the one thing I really notice is that because I’m not as busy and I’m not feeling well, I’m very focused on my own well-being, and more selfish than usual. Part of it is necessary – I have to be careful what I spend energy on, so I can’t please everybody. On the otherhand – I rely on others to try to keep in contact for the most part.

    How did you cope through your experience, what made you strong/fight?
    I’ve always been pretty optimistic. My friends have also been great – skyping, sending me funny messages and pictures. Also, knowing that this isn’t forever – holding on to the good times and looking forward to all the new ones that will come when chemo is over.

    How did your life change?
    everything changed. I went from being on a dance team, a youth group board, and a student to spending most of my time at home in front of the tv. I went from being completly healthy to feeling sick all of the time. but what didn’t change were my friends and how we kept in contact. Most of my friends were from my youth group and didn’t live close by anyways, so staying in contact through texting, facebook, and skype was normal.

    One thing that has really helped me is having a blog – I use it allows me to express myself and tumblr has a component that almost like facebook walls which lets me see what friends are posting and ask them questions, and that helps me to stay involved in their lives.

    • kp

      Hi Rosie!
      Thank you so much for your reply. I appreciate everything you have shared and it has provided me with a direction and a focus for my paper. I liked your response for my nurse question – it reminded me of how I felt about some of my nurses!
      I hope all is well and you are staying strong and positive. Keep friends and family close – they will help see you through any hard times you are experiencing. Thank you again.


  • vincent

    My dear brothers and sisters in the lord Jesus Christ…i just want to use this little time to encourage you…i no its painful to see one`s friend or family with a sickness, or pains… but i just want to let you know that taking medication is good but there is one supernatural power that will heal you or your friend if you believe in him…. is name is Jesus Christ….he is the foundation of life, he is the healer, he is the great physician, he is the Saviour…GOD HAS DESTINE YOU TO RECEIVE GRACE, SALVATION AND ENTERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST….i will like to encourage you, if you have not receive him in your life or your friend receive him now and be heal, if you have receive him believe in him and break the sickness or pain with the power of the prayer THE LORD IS WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU NOW, GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU CALL ON HIM,MAY IS KINDNESS AND MERCY BE ONTO YOU OR YOUR FRIEND IN JESUS NAME………..AMEN

  • Farah Contractor

    hi Karmen! First off I want to say that you are amazing for beating cancer and taking on the challenge of being an oncology nurse. I finished treatment back in August and I already want to make it part of my career but I’m only 13 (long way to go) I looooveed my nurses so much because they were so nice and understanding. they treated me like a normal person on good days and on bad days they were careful not to ask to much of me. Some of my favortie nurses would come sit and talk with me while i was out patient. And impatient nurses would talk and offer me games and pretty much anything while they were checking my port. I think the nurses are more gentle than doctors (Shhhhh) and sometimes more understanding because they are always the ones caught in the action. the nurses see everything. *Suggestion* if you are an impatient nurse and working nightshift buy a mini flashlight!!!! i used to hate when some nurses came in without warning while i was sleeping and turned on all of the lights! But some nurses were good about it and brought little flashlights so they werent disturbing me or my mom. I loved when my friends came and visited me in the hospital and got me caught up in all the gossip at school, but my friends just didn’t get me sometimes. the only people who understand cancer are the ones who encountered it. now that I’m cancer free I wish I was as healthy as I was before. I became all skin and bones but I gained my weight back and it’s still not enough ( i feel weak) I’ll get back to normal soon :) I hope this helped and good luck <3

    • kp

      Hi Farah!
      Sorry it took so long to reply but I didn’t forget about you! I want to thank you for your response and your input. It means a lot and I have learned so much from your response and I am taking everything you had mentioned into consideration while writing (which I am still in the middle of – ugh). I think it’s great that you’re thinking of becoming a nurse! Take it from me – it’s hard work but it’s already worth it!
      Good luck with everything and I hope you are feeling stronger these days! Thank you again for your post!


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