Last week, Rebecca offered tips for living with cancer as a teenager. This week, UK teen, Ellie, describes what it’s like to be a teenager with cancer, from hearing the “C word” for the first time, to missing school, to the tragedy of being able to understand the seriousness of her diagnosis. Find more of Ellie’s writing at www.teengirllivingwithcancer.blogspot.com. Here are her words:
Teens often think they are immortal, nothing bad could ever happen to them. So when the doctors said the word “Cancer”, I was in a state of disbelief; I was never the ill kid, bad things didn’t happen to me. I should be kissing boys, hanging out with friends, going to school and have no care in the world. Cancer took that away from me.

Ellie, as she says, “rocking the bald look”

Having cancer as a teen is hard, as you are at that awkward stage in your life: you are young and still needing a lot of guidance, but you understand a lot about everything. Which is scary at times. Sometimes I wish I was a little kid, because they don’t understand what cancer is and the risks that come with it. Not being able to understand cancer would be amazing, because you wouldn’t get anxiety that it could come back, you wouldn’t cry every time you think of how life used to be, and you wouldn’t be scared to death of what the future holds.

I am not sure about anyone else who received treatment as a teen, but it makes you feel a lot younger. It made me not feel like a teen anymore, it made me feel like a child, because I needed to be cared for 24/7 and I felt vulnerable without my mum. I used to call myself a ‘big baby’ because I was bald and being constantly looked after. It kind of sucked as your teenage years are supposed to be about freedom, but cancer locks you away.

HORMONES! If you are a teenager you have probably been referred to as the following: “grumpy”, “moody” and “big attitude”. Hormones plus stress, can bring out the worst in you. Just imagine what it is like for us cancer teens! We have a lot more stress than the average teenager, so at a time like this we can get extremely distressed. I used to get agitated quite a lot if things didn’t go my way or I was tired. The hardest thing for me was the stress building up causing me to have anxiety and depression. It was a very dark time for me. I would not want to do much, I would lay in bed all day feeling depressed and I would be on edge all the time with the anxiety. I especially got tearful a lot, if I felt like someone was trying to start an argument with me, be mean or even mentioned something I didn’t like; I would break down in tears. Teens with illnesses go through such a hard time, because they are naturally anxious anyways due to hormones, I can completely understand how tough it is.

The hardest thing for me was missing school. I was very liked at school and I enjoyed it so much. I was a librarian, school council, on the sports teams and I was in top sets. So when I wasn’t able to do it anymore, it hit me so hard and I missed it greatly. I would look through my classmates’ snapchat stories and see them having fun at school, it tore shreds into my heart when I looked at those snapchat stories, as that should have been me there enjoying school with my classmates, but instead I was locked away in hospital.

I used to always day dream about what I would be like and all the great things I would be doing if I didn’t have cancer. I don’t think about that anymore, because I like to make the most of the present. Yeah, I know Ive got cancer and that sucks a lot, but I have learn’t to accept it and I have realised that the present me is more important than the Ellie who was never supposed to be.
I embrace the fact I have cancer, I am proud that I have cancer because it has made me the person I am today. It has made me realise my full potential: I CAN inspire others, I CAN write a blog, I CAN do youtube videos, I CAN beat cancer and I CAN do anything my heart wants me to do! It has made me realise that other people’s judgements aren’t necessary. I would have never of done a youtube video before, as I would be too scared of what other people would think. Please do the things that YOU want to do. Teenagers can experience a lot of pressure to do certain things and be a certain way, but don’t stop your dreams because of the people around you.

Cancer has stolen my childhood and has forced me to mature quicker than the average teenager. Cancer has opened my eyes to the fact that your life could change for the worst in a click of a finger. It has made me realise that you need to live every second to the full, because you don’t know when it could end. Cancer has made me realise that life is so precious. You need to do things for you, do things that you won’t regret and help others.

Thank you for reading this blog post. Being a teen with cancer is tough at times, but we realise that all you can do is be strong and pull through. Spreading love to all the teen cancer warriors and survivors out there!
Guest Blogger
Digging Deep accepts guest posts on many topics from a wide range of experts, patients, health care practitioners, and others who work with sick children and teens. We welcome your perspectives and stories to share regarding ways to support the emotional needs of children with health challenges and the families and professionals who support them. Please email: info@diggingdeep.com if you would like to be a guest blogger.
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