The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - Fighting Blood Cancers
10 Replies Latest reply: Apr 16, 2012 12:27 PM by mom2Graham63 RSS

teenagers with cancer

pollymarie Registered Users
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My 15 year old daughter was diagnoised September 7,2011with ALCL. Recently she has had mild setbacks which is making her very angery and bitter. She also has a very short fuse,when her friends complain about their life being crappy she snaps at them & says " you want my life" i feel bad for her but I also explain to her that she can't treat people like crap. She goes to counsling but she says " I'm fine. I feel helpless and i don't no how to make her deal with her anger and fears & saddness.  Sorry I just needed to get that off my chest.

  • Re: teenagers with cancer
    lehrerin Registered Users
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    So sorry that you are on this journey.    Can you speak with the Child Life Specialists where your daughter is being treated?   They really helped us a great deal.   We also went to see a clinical psychologist both as a family and individually.   We went every week for about 4-5 months, and periodically go back when we feel the need.   It has also helped.   My dd was diagnosed with leukemia a little over 2 years ago, when she just turned 11.    The most important piece of advice was to "treat her like a normal kid".   Her doctor assured us it was OK to be angry, but to make her do her chores, do her school, and yes, she even continued to dance in a production company 4 days a week.   She often felt horrible, but said that making her get up and move, and being with her friends helped a great deal.   We also sent her to camp a mere 8 weeks after her diagnosis.   We all cried, but I left her there for a week.    It was the best decision for our family.   She came back to us as the girl she was before her cancer diagnosis, happy, loving, and kind.

     

    Yes, life still is difficult, and she has to try so much harder than anyone else, and she forgets lots of things (because of the medication she is on).......but she continues to try her best.   And sometimes I get soooo angry with her, and then I realize that I have a teenager in the house, and that is the biggest problem, and the biggest blessing. 

     

    Maybe it would help her to meet others in a similar situation.   I found another person who has the same leukemia, and lives close to us.   We try to get together several times a year, so she can talk with her "cancer big sister" about stuff she would never talk to me or her father or her doctor or her counseler about.    I am really sad that someone else is travelling the same path, but it REALLY helps my DD see someone that has the same disease, and talking about it.   Immerman's  Angels might be able to help......here is a link to their page

     

    http://www.imermanangels.org/

     

    They try to link people together with similar cancers and a similar age, so that your daughter can talk with someone who is going through the same thing.  Or maybe the lls society can help match her up with someone.

  • Re: teenagers with cancer
    VendettaSRB Registered Users
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    Hello. I'm sorry to hear that about your daughter. I also have ALL but T-cell, and I'm 17 years old.

     

    I dont know whats your daughter like but me personally wanted to be left alone. My friends don't know about my condition as I didn't want to tell them, so I shouted at my mother sometimes, even though she totally doesnt deserve it.

    I tend to be cranky because of drugs that I'm taking and because of condition.

    I've found it a lot easier when I talked to the friends that have the same condition. Also when I do something, I forget about Leukemia. For example, when I go and drive a car, or when I play sports, shoot from a gun, drive a bike, or play video-games.

    I don't know if she is capable of anything like that, but make her try.

    All in all, don't force her to do something that she doesn't want, but be there whenever she needs you.

  • Re: teenagers with cancer
    Shakinquaker Registered Users
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    Being a teenager is so hard to start with!  No wonder she is a mess.  My son was young at dx, but there are lots of parents of teens here.  I just wanted to send some support your way!

  • Re: teenagers with cancer
    abslater Registered Users
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    My 13 year old also has a short fuse on some days ...and actually I'm suprised that she doesn't have more bouts with anger ...it's easy to say ...but try really hard to find some fun stuff for her to do-- don't be shy to ask for things locally -- my daughter loves to cook, and spent a day working at our local bakery and had a lesson decorating cakes - we had tickets donated to us for the area pro-football team - we had a fancy dinner donated  -- stuff like that - it has helped keep her anger in check I think. They deserve special treatment, not too a spoiling point - but ask for help & fun stuff, it's ok.

     

    Now of course,  my daughter also told me when her hair grows in, she's dying the end red - and that's ok by me ..hahahah! At least that's "safe" rebellion. These kids are going through so much. Maybe attend some area camps for kids with cancer - helping out the younger kids can sometimes help keep the anger in check ...my daughter has actually become a more nuturing person over the past year.

     

    But she does have little to no tolerance for non-cancer friends ache's and pains. She told me, it's not that she doesn't care, but she has her own worries, her cup is full and it's hard if not impossible to listen to someone being afraid of a flu shot, after what she's been through herself....

     

    So actually I agree with your daughter when it comes to listening to her friends complain....there's no room for that. I can't listen to my neighbors being upset about losing a tennis match- we're fighting for our daughter's life!! I can't shed a tear over tennis, school troubles, not making a team, etc.

     

    You may find that she pulls away from friends who complain about their lives, and that's ok - she'll find new friends over time who really understand what's important, and what's not. A true friend won't "belly ache" about their problems to a friend with cancer ....

     

    I hope that she's able to find her way around the anger, and use all of her energy for positive healing!!! xoxo b

    • Re: teenagers with cancer
      pollymarie Registered Users
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      That is neat that your daughter likes to cook, so does mine! We had friends over Friday night and Kelsi made the dinner and dessert, and it was very good Cooking does seem to help relax her.  Also when Kelsi is done with treatment she wants to dye her hair brown with red highlights. Kelsi has been blonde and hates it so wants to celebrate the end of chemo by changing her hair color.  Kelsi  just gets upset because  no one will invite her to there homes because they are afraid but they all come over and sleep over here and sometimes she wants to get out and go to there homes. We are sending her to a camp for cancer kids and she is so ANGRY with us but we are hoping once she is there she will have a good time! Thanks so much for sharing your daughters story, it helps to hear from other parents!

  • Re: teenagers with cancer
    robbieh Registered Users
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    I don't know if you have any older kids, but my 17 year old doesn't have cancer and my 13 year old does.  My 17 year old has fought me on everything since she was about 11...I am not kidding...It's part of being a teenager.  I have 3 adult stepchildren and my oldest, who is 32 and now a mom fought EVERY day with her mom when she was in high school and she says now she really doesn't know why; and once she moved out to go to college it was fine. 

     

    I can understand your daughter being angry and having a short fuse; and I also get that she won't tell the counselor anything.  I think that's pretty common.  Any 15 year old girl is going through SO much turmoil already and adding cancer on top of it makes it much worse.  My older daughter doesn't have many female friends----she says she doesn't like their drama.  Most of the kids who hang out in our basement are male.

     

    My 13 year old with cancer has Down syndrome, so not like a typical kid fighting me on everything every step of the way.  Yet.  LOL. 

     

    You may need to change counselors to find someone who she will open up to.  I recommend two books that I have---Get Out of My Life, but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall? and Yes, Your Teenager is Crazy.  They apply to all kids; and parts of them make me feel like they have hidden videos in our house.  There are probably some insightful books that apply to teens with cancer as well.  One last thought, is there a teenage support group for teenagers with cancer?

    • Re: teenagers with cancer
      pollymarie Registered Users
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      I have an older son who is 22 but he was mild temper compared to my daughter Kelsi. You are so right about teenagers having tumoril in life with out cancer but add cancer it is awful. I do know my daughter feels left out from here friends. They dont ever invite her anywhere or to their homes but they will come here.

      Kelsi love her counselor but she will be graduating in May and will be moving on looking for a job   She becomes a Doctor of psycology. So Kelsi figures why bother. We do go to a support group and the teenagers go in a room and they have fun but not really talk about cancer just kind of hang out together.

      Kelsi should e done with treatment end of August so hopefully she will get her friendly and fun loving personailty back! I will go see if I can find the books you mentioned! Thanks so much!!

      • Re: teenagers with cancer
        robbieh Registered Users
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        I don't have any sons, and had only sisters.  According to the books, sons pretty much shut their parents our of their lives and hole up in their rooms when home or just kind of ignore their parents.  Daughters engage in fighting with their mom as a way to get attention and keep engaged with them in the whole breaking away, but I still need my mom saga.  That's true for me with my daughter.  I think I pretty much ignored my mom growing up and fought with my dad, though.  They're both deceased, so I know they are having lots of laughs over my older daughter and me!  Paybacks are not fun. 

         

        Good luck and I'm sure Kelsi looks forward to going OT.  I'm also reading a fiction book right now about a teenager with cancer called The Fault in Our Stars.  It's really aimed at the teenager, young adult crowd but I'm really enjoying it.  You and Kelsi might like it.  Yes, I do other things besides read...LOL  I'm sure she'll emerge a stronger person for having gone through this.  I've never had issues before, but the last two times I've had blood draws out of my arm the person has had a hard time and it burns and just downright hurts.  I sit there and think about our kids going through treatment and that this would be nothing to them....Sigh.  Cancer is just so cruel to kids!

        • Re: teenagers with cancer
          pollymarie Registered Users
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          Kelsi and I have our fair share of arguments but she can be down right nasty to her dad. He just laughs it off but sometimes it bothers him. His great aunt & aunt were also just diagnosed with lymphoma which really upset Kelsi. She feels it is her dads genetics and so she gets mad at him. She is just scared that if she has cancer at 15 and they got  cancer when they are 80 & 81 years old , she will have it forever. We have tried explaining that every cancer is different and people handle treatment differently. She is young and has a great chance for a complete cure or at least a long term remission. Wow just typing that makes me feel for her, I cant imagine the weight on her shoulders. I agree with you cancer is so cruel to kids, but when I see what they go through &  I  realize I have nothing to complain about. I am thinking reading some books might help me also. I cry very easily when it comes to cancer anything, movie or books ect..

        • Re: teenagers with cancer
          mom2Graham63 Registered Users
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          Robbieh,

           

          Well the books are right in our case! We have five daughters and Graham, our CK, is our only son. He was 15 at dx. Four of our daughters are older than him, so we had been through a lot of teen crap with them. But I have often said I think if one of our girls was going through this, it would have been easier to deal with. I know they would have talked my ears off! Graham, on the other hand, was dark, surly, impatient, morose, rude...and if he expressed anything, it was anger. All he wanted to do was be left alone, whether in his hospital room or bedroom. When he was hospitalized, I did my best to make sure someone was with him when I couldn't be, whether he liked it or not. I didn't want him looking back and feeling like he had been abandoned or something. Even though I had to warn whoever was with him (dad, siblings, friends, bro-in-law...) to not even talk to Graham unless he said something first, it was important to me that he had some kind of support. He says now, almost OT, that he has very little memory of the first couple of years. To me, it was like walking a tightrope blindfolded. I never knew if the next step was going to bring disaster. I didn't know if we were pushing too hard because the-poor-kid-has-cancer or if we weren't pushing hard enough because he was maybe just being a normal unpleasant teenage male. He wasn't above "using" his dx as an excuse, so that further complicated things! He had NO desire to go to cancer camps and be around other sick kids, but I think it might have given him a better perspective. To me, as far as Leukemia is concerned, Graham has had a fairly uncomplicated go of it. But, to him, he is still the sickest person he knows. While he would never go to a counselor, we have gone the anti-depressant route. We had him put on them, then he chose to go off them (he never TOLD me they made him feel weird!) then he chose to go back on something else.  Because, in the midst of all this, he became a legal adult, so we have had to back off even more! Now, at almost 19, we do see some maturing and he will talk a little more, but still a long way to go. I know that dealing with this kind of illness makes all the kids feel less in control of their lives; but I wonder if it is just a smidge harder on boys who are trying their best to establish their manhood? After all, they have to endure an embarrassing 'check' every month, that mom has to step out for. But there have been other teen boys represented here that seem to have much better attitudes. So I don't know, we will just all be glad when this is over!

           

          Hope today is a good day!

          Lorna

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