Sickle cell disease

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Teen Zone

What Am I Doing Here?

You’re a teenager who has cancer, and you’re probably wondering all sorts of things, like:

  • Why me?
  • Who gets cancer, anyway?
  • Is this my fault?
  • How am I supposed to cope with being bald? Zits were bad enough.
  • What am I doing here in a children’s hospital with all the little kids?
  • Who are all these people—doctors, nurses, nutritionists, art therapists? And why do I need a social worker? Or any of them?
  • My family is freaking out—what am I supposed to do?
  • Will I ever get my normal life back? 

Well, here are the answers to those questions, plus a few more to help you understand what is going on.

Most or all of your care will happen at Seattle Children’s. They will also hook you up with other teens living with cancer, in support groups or online.

Then there’s the confusing stuff, like medical terms, clinical studies and (if you haven’t made these decisions yet) choosing the best hospital and best treatment for you.

If you’re like most teenagers, you’d rather spend your time thinking about your life and all the changes that are happening (like growing six inches in a year or developing sexually), plus friends, school, parents, popularity, looks and the future.

Cancer doesn’t fit. At first it may feel like your life will never be the same. How will your friends react? Why are your parents being so weird? How are you supposed to go out in public with NO HAIR?

The first thing to realize is that your life probably never will be exactly the way it was before. You will have changed. You will have grown up some. And, most likely, you will have settled into a “new normal,”which is the way your life is going to be during and after cancer treatment. It’s OK to rely on your friends and others for support. Read about Danel, a high school student, and his friends to see how he dealt with his cancer.

There are lots of people at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Children’s who can help you and your family with your feelings as you are going through cancer treatment. Counselors will probably stop by to see you, or you can ask to see them.

Hang in there. Take care of yourself. You’re going to do great!