Living with cancer

How to make things suck a bit less when you are a teen with cancer

Here are a few tips about how one can make things feel a little bit better during a crisis. Hopefully, you will find a least a few points in this list which can be helpful for you.


Now…and then

A common advice for someone going through a crisis is to take it one step at the time. Do not overwhelm yourself by intrusive thoughts. Set small goals and allow yourself to feel good about accomplishing them.

With that said, it is also a good idea to have things to look forward to. Don’t put your life on pause just because you are ill. No matter how bleak the prognosis is, you are allowed to plan and dream. Plan things both short-term and long-term that you can look forward too.

Express your thoughts and feeling

Expressing our thoughts and feelings can be very helpful, and make it easier for us to cope. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Write down your thoughts and feelings in a private diary
  • See a councelor, preferably one who has plenty of experience of helping teens who suffer from serious health problems
  • Attend support group meetings for other people in your situation
  • Find a support forum online for teens with cancer or other serious health issues
  • Talk openly to friends and family that you trust and who supports you
  • Express yourself through creative art, such as singing, playing an instrument, writing songs, painting, drawing, making videos for YouTube, writing short stories, and so on. You might think it sounds strange, but even hobbies such as being creative with make-up or sewing your own clothes can be an outlet for thoughts and feelings.

Reach out and ask for what you need

There is probably a lot of people around you who want to support you but don’t know how to do it. Be honest and ask for what you need. “I would really like to hang out with you this Saturday and NOT talk about cancer” or “It would mean a lot to me if you came and visited me during my next hospitalization, the visiting hours are 5pm to 6 pm and I will appreciate it a bunch it even if I seem too tired to care right then.”

Be king to yourself

You are going through something tremendously difficult. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t get struck in thoughts about all the things you think you should be doing.

Devote time and effort into exploring the activities that give you energy and peace of mind. It’s perfectly okay to re-watch your favorite film for the umpteen time.


Exercise can be a great way to relieve stress and make you focus on what you can do instead of being stuck thinking about what you can’t do.

Check with your doctor first to find out if there are any restrictions that you need to adhere to. Don’t hesitate to ask if you can see a physio therapeut that can help put together a safe tailormade exercise program for you.