Where I am now

Everyone reacts differently to cancer, and your emotions can change on a daily basis – during treatment and beyond. But whatever you’re feeling – numb, overwhelmed, scared, angry – is 100% natural.

It’ll take time to start getting your head around this. Even when you’ve had treatment for a while you’re bound to still have questions. This section covers some of the main concerns you might have about how you ended up here and what happens next. Other sections explore what to expect as you go through cancer treatment.

When you are scoring this section of your IAM, the questions below should help.

And you can find even more information at the Teenage Cancer Trust website

The big questions answered

Types of cancer

There are more than 200 types of cancer, all caused by cells in your body not behaving as they should. Teenage Cancer Trust has lots of useful information about the most common cancers in young people.

Cancer treatment – you’re the boss!

Cancer is treated in lots of different ways – and getting your head around what could happen can feel overwhelming. Remember, though – you can always ask questions.

Maybe you want to delay a round of chemo until after an exam or get friends to visit after hospital opening hours. It may not be possible, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get – so ask away!

Staying in hospital

You’ll probably need to get used to regular hospital stays when you start treatment. What to expect depends a lot on where you are – on a ward with people your age, in a Teenage Cancer Trust unit, or on a ward with younger or older people.

Wherever you are, you’ll get asked a lot of questions overnight, so the staff can help you settle in. If you’re asked about things you’d rather your family didn’t know – like your sexual history – you can always ask to talk to doctors or nurses privately.

On a ward, you and your family are guaranteed constant support. It can take a while to get used to everything, and there might be days when you wish you had a bit more privacy, but you can always try taking a walk if you can or reaching for your headphones. And try not to compare yourself with anyone else – everyone’s situation is different.

Leaving hospital

Even if you’ve spent a lot of time wishing you could leave hospital, it can still be scary when the day arrives. It could help to:

  • Pin the hospital phone number and your clinical nurse specialist’s number somewhere at home and add them to your contacts

  • Ask your nurse specialist if they can visit you at home. It might not be possible, but it’s worth checking

  • Let your family know what you’d like them to do and what you want to do yourself

  • Have a plan so everyone knows what to do if you’re not well.

Where will I be treated?

  • If you’re under 16, you’ll be treated on a children’s ward (or possibly on a young people’s unit if you’re over 13)

  • If you’re 16-18, you’re most likely to be treated at a Principal Treatment Centre (PTC) for young people

  • If you’re 19 to 24, you should have the option to be treated at a young people’s PTC or a hospital that has been approved to provide cancer care for young adults.

There might be a time when you need to move from services designed for children or young people to adult services.