Research conducted by CanTeen, in collaboration with the University of Sydney, found that 61% of young people (12-24 years) who have a parent with cancer have high to very high levels of psychological distress* compared with 9% of young people (aged 16-24 years) in the general population**. Young people have also reported lower than normative levels of self-esteem. Young people who have a parent with cancer experience fear and anxiety surrounding their parent’s prognosis and if they do not utilise effective coping skills it can result in the development of long-term mental illness.
“I need help with these feelings of guilt and sadness and anger and fear.” – Offspring Member
“I just want the opportunity to be a ‘normal’teenager sometimes.” – Offspring Member
Young people whose parent has died from cancer are also faced with the additional grief and loss issues and need to adopt coping strategies to help them deal with the death of their parent.
“I needed help in learning about grief and how to deal with it every day. I had never grieved to this extent before and I thought I was going nuts.”- Bereaved Offspring Member
“I needed help dealing with the depression that comes along with all the events that have happened in my life leading up to the death of my mother. I can’t get rid of all the sadness and bad feelings that I have.” -Bereaved Offspring Member
CanTeen’s research has identified that young people who have a parent with cancer have needs in a number of areas***, including:
- Family issues
- Practical assistance
- ‘Time out’ and recreation
- Dealing with feelings
- Support from friends
- Support from other young people
Young people who have a parent with cancer have also reported positive aspects of their experience, such as increased family closeness and cohesion and a greater appreciation of life.