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  • Soni
  • 16th Oct. 2018

Connecting with my peers

It all started with my knee hurting, which physiotherapy didn’t help. After a month of medical examinations in hospital, my life suddenly changed. I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 14. I had no idea bone cancer even existed, I only knew about cancers like breast and skin cancer.

Grueling chemotherapy took over my day-to-day life, I was in huge pain and I started to lose weight. I had to stay in hospital and stop going to school, which was even more distressing for me as I really liked school, I was a straight-A student.

I felt isolated and I couldn’t share my feelings with my family as they wanted me to be strong and positive. I could see how my parents were already very stressed and I couldn’t add more stress onto them. Deep down, I felt no one understood me. But, keeping my feelings inside meant that I had body tremors and more side effects.

And then, CanTeen Youth Support Coordinator Miranda found me at the hospital. My life changed again, for the better. I met other young people with cancer and was able to connect and relate to them. We talked a lot about what we’ve all gone through and it felt good to know that I was understood. I was able to face my feelings and make lifelong friends with other young people who truly understand the impact of cancer, having walked in the same shoes. It was good not to pretend that everything was going to be fine, but to truly talk.

CanTeen gave me the confidence to embrace my artistic skills. I did a lot of painting, colouring and creating things during treatment. It was a good coping mechanism for the hardest days of treatment.

CanTeen is now part of my life as I re-adjust back into everyday life, but there’s been nothing normal since cancer. Everyone at CanTeen always goes the extra mile to help me and other young people. For example, I needed to get a gym membership to maintain the strength and health of my prosthetic bone, but I couldn’t afford it. I successfully applied for a grant from CanTeen and I’ve been able to become healthier and physically more independent. I can now go up and down stairs on my own; it is such a good feeling.

Not only was this peer support valuable to Soni, but her eldest sister Synthia benefited from joining CanTeen too

“I don’t think I realised how hard everything was going to be when Soni was diagnosed with cancer. I just kept everything to myself. I was with Soni as much as possible, while being in my last year at college and taking care of my other brother and sisters.

Attending CanTeen’s therapeutic programme helped me realise all the emotions, tiredness and stress I’d bottled in. It was amazing as I never stopped and thought how difficult the whole situation had been on me, emotionally and physically. The programme made me look into myself and open up. It was good to speak to others who had experienced the same situation,” said Synthia.