Going Through Cancer as a Teenager


Going Through Cancer as a Teenager

March 21, 2024 | by Tania Amardeil

When I think back to having cancer and going through treatment, a lot of it is a blur. It was almost like a four-month-long out-of-body experience. I was 15 and in grade 10 when I was diagnosed. I was in the culinary arts program at my school in Toronto, which I had wanted to do forever. And so much was already going on in my life. It was a tough year. My dog had recently died, which was really hard for my family, and my grandmother had also had a cancer scare. And, things were hard at school. I’d met someone who turned out to not be a very nice friend, so I stopped hanging out with him and then I found out a few months later that he’d been writing mean stuff about me online. And then he started threatening me and following me around school. He was friends with a lot of my friends and it was hard to get away from him. And I had also just parted ways with my entire friend group, because they were just not nice friends. One of them even told me she had hated me from the moment she met me. That was hard. I’d dealt with a lot that year, and so getting cancer just kind of felt like an extra bonus. It was the cherry on top of some terrible sundae.

Suddenly I was spending pretty much every single day, hours and hours of the day, in doctors’ offices trying to figure everything out. I started failing most of my classes at school because cancer was suddenly taking up most of my time.

I got through it, though. My school supported me with my class work when they heard what was going on. I was able to make some great new friends who were kind and supportive. And I got through my treatment.

Chemo was hard but it wasn’t as bad as movies would make it seem. In some ways it’s true that chemo can be very intense, but it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. My surgery went really well. Heading into it, my parents were super nervous, but I was just like, “OK cool, I’ll see you guys later!”

My hair did fall out, which was not fun. I had really long curly hair, and I was sad to lose it. And I had a lot of skin problems – sore skin, chemo blisters that turned dark purple on my feet, a lot of sensitivity in my hands, and red marks on my shoulders. Doing a Look Good Feel Better workshop helped me feel a lot better. I loved not just playing with makeup – I love getting to express myself in that way – but also getting to meet other people who had cancer. They told me about their experiences, which was really helpful for me. It made me feel less alone.

That’s all behind me now, and I get to focus on being a teenager and doing what I love. I still enjoy being creative in the kitchen. Baking is my favourite. I’m really good at making chocolate cake – I think I’ve perfected it. I also like to crochet, embroider, sew, and do crafts. I’m glad that this is my life again, and that cancer is in my past.