This blog will explore the effects that cancer has on children and teens, their treatment, their development, their relationships, and their fears, whether it be a personal battle with cancer or watching their parents or siblings fight cancer.

The Battle Against Cancer

High School is demanding and stressful. At my school, we take six classes a day, participate in as many extra circulars as we can fit into our schedules, and average a minimum of 40 community service hours a school year. We don’t only juggle the simple demands of school and the extracurricular side of school. No, there are social pressures as well that each teenager deals with on a daily basis trying to curve their anxiety as they look for just the right group of people to sit with at lunch. On top of all that, teenagers also juggle familial pressures and stresses. Each and every teenager I know manages a parent constantly bombarding them with reminders to do a specific task they have not yet been able to get around to or a parent who is constantly trying to get them to improve their grades as their B just will not cut it. Given all of that, how could there be any more room in a day or even in a teenager’s mind to wrestle with even just one more thing?

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My Friend With Cancer

Cancer is something we learn about in biology class. It is something we know exists. Something we keep at an arm’s length, never believing it will make an entrance into our own lives. When cancer chooses its victims, it hopes we will surrender to it, however, most choose to battle and fight it no matter what our circumstances.

My friend Mark was diagnosed with cancer in mid-January of 2021. His whole world changed in a flash, along with the lives of his family, and his best friend, his younger sister. She is a 16-year-old sophomore in high school and has had to put her life on hold to be there for her brother while he battles Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL). Although she was about to leave for a semester in Israel, her plans quickly came to a halt. Now she has had to go through the stress of catching up on a month and half of schoolwork, a radical change in her family- all while her brother is in the hospital with a life-threatening illness.

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Through the Eyes of a Teen - Camp Kesem

When cancer is thrown into the life of a teen it takes a toll, especially when it is their parent, sister or brother who is sick. Fear and anxiety develop quickly, and they begin to lose focus. Their grades drop, they begin to isolate themselves and their performance in sports is not the same. They begin to worry about expenses and how that will affect their family and their lives, leaving them feeling insecure about their future. Their path is no longer clear; instead, it is filled with twists and turns that they are unsure how to navigate. Most importantly, they worry for their parent, sister or brother, not knowing what the end result will be and if their family will win or lose their battle with cancer, what it might mean if Mom, Dad, sister or brother pass.

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Here is the Buzz on Family Support - The BumbleBee Foundation

As a teenage girl, I understand the insecurities many of us deal with, from worrying about leaving our homes each morning without makeup, wearing the perfect outfit, and having our hair done just right. We stress about our grades, the shape of our body, and if our crush likes us back. What we want to do is have fun with our friends, play our sport, or work on our artistic interests. But when cancer takes hold things begin to change. These teens may lose their hair, the shape of their bodies may change, they no longer have the energy to go out, and their bodies cannot handle the physical stresses of a sport. Cancer isolates a teen, often sitting alone and not knowing the person they have become. Insecurities can arise with concerns about what their future holds.

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Reaching Past Grief: A Profile of Our House

The five stages of grief, known as the Kübler-Ross Model, include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages take a toll. No matter how we lose someone, no matter when we lose someone, we run through these stages of grief. Grief is not the same for everyone. Some of us spend more time in one stage than another, some of us never go through all five phases. Grief is unpredictable. No one knows how long it will last. No one knows the magic thing to say or the perfect thing to do to regain their footing, not when someone you love is taken from you.

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A Guiding Light​: City Of Hope, The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program

Cancer is a demon. It strips every teen of their comforts, making them sit alone with themselves trying to figure out who this new person is that stares back at them in the mirror.

Teens lose much more than their hair when they are battling cancer. They lose their ability to play their sport, to attend school, and to hang out with their friends. Many teens begin to worry about their futures; if they will be able to go to a D1 school, or if they even should be planning their future at all. It is very easy for them to spiral downward during this time. To help teens who have been diagnosed with cancer, the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program at City of Hope was designed to encourage teens and to keep them going when they are sad: to be a guiding light for them when they feel engulfed by darkness. The program provides specialized social and emotional care for this population of patients.

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About the Author

About me- My name is Emilia Hamburg. I’m sixteen years old and I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. I am an avid dancer and have hopes of becoming a choreographer. I have always wanted to make a mark on the world, to do something to help others no matter what median I use. The Tower Cancer Research Foundation has been a part of my life since I was a little girl and I believe that now is the perfect time for me to create a program that will let people my age to be heard and let their stories be heard. I’m lucky enough to have two parents that are involved in this Foundation giving me an immense understanding of the hardships of cancer, but also giving me the curiosity to hear about how it affects lives from the point of view of a teenager.