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  • Lauren
  • 25th Mar. 2020

I attended my first CanTeen event and never looked back

Lauren’s Mum was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia when she was just 18 years old. She received intensive chemotherapy in the Bone Marrow Transfer Unit of Christchurch Hospital. While her family were in Christchurch, Lauren was away from home for the first time at university in Wellington. Lauren recalls:


“Mum’s diagnosis came towards the end of my first semester at university, around the same time as all the big essays and exams. I was in shock and scared. I didn’t know what it all meant, and it was very hard being away from home. I felt like I wasn’t there to support my family through Mum’s treatment – I felt alone and helpless.


“My friends from the university hall of residence where I lived were supportive, but no one really ‘got it’. Regular trips home to Christchurch meant I missed out on a lot of the normal social and fun aspects of being a uni student. But when I was in Wellington, I also felt guilt about enjoying my normal life whilst Mum was stuck in an isolation unit in hospital.


“In my second year of university I began to struggle with mental health issues – with Mum’s cancer on top of the general stress of being a student – it all became too much. So, I moved backed to Christchurch to finish my studies and it was at this time I attended my first CanTeen event and I’ve never looked back!”


Our services are provided free of charge nationwide, but with no Government funding we’re solely reliant on the community for funding. A regular monthly donation to CanTeen will make a real difference in young people’s lives, as Lauren will tell you:


“CanTeen has enabled me to meet lots of young people who have been through a similar experience. It makes such a difference being able to meet, connect and share stories with other young people who understand what you’re going through. CanTeen creates a safe environment where you can talk, quite emotionally, about what you’re experiencing, and you’re supported by peers who just ‘get it’. I’ve met some incredible people, some of whom are still very close friends today.


“CanTeen provided me with expert one-to-one support from a clinical psychologist to help me deal with the really tough stuff. I was empowered to face the challenges that life with cancer brings head on and developed my resilienceand confidence to get my life back on track.

“Now that my life is back on track, I’m a member leader at CanTeen and the leadership training I’ve received has been invaluable. I’ve developed skills in peer support and relationship building, and now know how to use my own experience to help others. I love supporting the younger or newer leaders and I’m constantly inspired by the young people and staff I’ve met through CanTeen.”

Please consider making a small monthly donation to CanTeen here to ensure we can support young people like Lauren when they need it most