Young people going back to school or uni with cancer

Do you tell your school mates?

You may find that there is a change in your friends' reactions to you at school. They may not know how to act around you but try and be honest with them and explain your situation. 

Tell them you haven't changed and that you just want to be a treated like normal. Let them know what you're willing to talk about and if it's okay to ask questions.

Remember: It's probably their first time dealing with cancer so they will need some guidance.

If you look different because of your treatment and you're worried about how your friends will react the first time they see you, set up a first meeting somewhere familiar. Invite your friends over to your house or go to the movies.That way they can get used to your new appearance, and when you go back to school there will be some familiar friendly faces to make it easier.

How can you attend when you are sick?

Your cancer experience may also cause a change in your performance at school. This may be a direct result of being absent, or other factors like:

  • poor concentration
  • lack of motivation
  • emotional difficulties
  • physical difficulties.

Before you go back to school it’s a good idea to talk to the nurses in the Youth Cancer Service team. They can visit your school (metro Adelaide) with you and work together to develop reasonable expectations for what you can achieve academically while dealing with this. This is especially important if you are in Year 11 or Year 12 and it affects your finals.

Remember too if you are from the country and having treatment at the Women's Children's Hospital (WCH) there is a school located at the hospital and the senior school teachers there are great at helping you with your homework or helping you to negotiate a curriculum form your own school.

Sometimes kids – well teenagers can be cruel or just not get it when you do go back to school. 

Remember just like you were never expecting to get cancer – they were never expecting to have either a friend or someone in their school with cancer. They might not know what to say, how to support you, or worse case they may be bullies. There are lots of people you can ask for help or places to get info about bullying. A good place to start is by telling an adult you trust and taking a look at the national centre against bullying website.

Remember: It’s not bludging – it’s just recognising that things are really hard right now.