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How CanTeen was founded

12 Jun, 2018

How CanTeen was founded

In 1978, at the age of 20, Michael Carr-Gregg was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in his neck and underwent treatment at Wellington Hospital From his personal experience he recognised a need and had an idea for a youth-oriented cancer patient support group, but it wasn’t until seven years later in 1985 while studying in Sydney, Australia that CanTeen was founded.

A combination of personal and professional experiences helped Michael found CanTeen Australia. It was fuelled by a passion for better support for young people, like him faced with cancer and a passion shared by others that helped found CanTeen. Six passionate young cancer patients along with a number of health professionals collectively recognised that young people were being treated in an environment that was dominated by either young children or adults.

More than that, they realised that isolation from one’s peers can have a serious impact on your ability to cope with diagnosis and treatment. Not only did young cancer patients need support in their struggle to survive, they needed to escape the pressures of the hospital to simply ‘be young people.’

Phillip Townsend, a New Zealand teenage cancer survivor, was visiting Australia when he met Michael Carr-Gregg. After sharing their experiences and learning about the teenage cancer patient support group in Australia, Phillip and Michael decided to bring the concept back home and established CanTeen New Zealand in 1988.

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