Returning to school or study

Going back to school or study (at Uni or TAFE) – or starting a new course – after you finish your cancer treatment can be challenging. But these are big parts of your life, so getting back into school or study can help you create your ‘new normal’ after cancer.

After a long time away, it’s normal to feel nervous about going back. You may feel self conscious about any physical changes and unsure how others will react.


Get prepared for your return to school or study
  • Ask your parents, a friend or someone from the YCS team to visit or call the school to let them know about your cancer (if they don’t already).
  • Be prepared for people – even friends – to act a bit weird around you at first. They may not know what to say or how to act around you.
  • Tell them you haven’t changed and that you just want to be a treated like normal. You can stop the whispering by letting them know what you’re willing to talk about and if it’s okay to ask you questions.
  • If you’re worried about how your friends will react, catch up with them before you go back to school. Invite them over or go to the movies.
  • On your first day back, have a friend meet you at school to walk in with you so that you are not the centre of attention.

Adjust your expectations

You might feel ready to jump right back into school or study and make up for lost time. But don’t be disappointed if your grades aren’t what they used to be.

This might be because you were away a lot or other issues related to your cancer or treatment. If you feel it’s harder to concentrate, or to process or remember new information talk to your teachers, parents or someone in your YCS team.

If you are in year 11 or 12 and doing your final exams, talk to your teachers or the school counsellor about ‘special consideration’.  Lots of people get special consideration for different reasons. It doesn’t have to be a big deal and you don’t have to tell everyone about it.

When you go back to Uni or TAFE, you might find it difficult to keep up because you’re still really tired or finding it hard to concentrate. Try not to stress. Study can wait until you are well again.

Your health and getting better is the most important thing at this time, and you (and your parents) might have to adjust your expectations for now.


Get some advice

Lots of other young people have been through this. Talk to someone in your YCS team or join a support group for young people with cancer to get some tips about returning to school or study after cancer. You can join Canteen’s online community for young people affected by cancer.