Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer

by Teens Unite Fighting Cancer
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Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer

Our Digital Access workshops ensure that teenagers and young adults overcoming cancer and the challenges it brings can access support wherever they are geographically or on their cancer journey.

The sessions allow them to interact and socialise with other young people who, genuinely, get what each other are going through. They help to reduce their feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Each week, the young people can access our quizzes, online game sessions, and our chill and chat sessions via a Zoom link. Since our last report we have hosted an Emoji Quiz in which Landmarks, Superhero’s and Disney characters took on the form of an emoji and kept the Quizzers on their toes throughout!

With a 5-point lead one young girl showcased her superior knowledge of Emoji’s – rumour has it she hasn’t texted with actual words in over 5 years…

In a new weekly game, we took on Herd Mentality –a game with a simple mission: write down the same answer as everyone else. It starts with a random question, then everyone secretly writes down an answer. If your answer is in the majority, you win cows. We learnt some interesting things about the young people in this session, for example one person answered with ‘Spaghetti’ to the statement, ‘Name a food you don’t have to chew’… very interesting, and not too surprising, they didn’t win a cow! 

We always love a game of Two truths and a Lie, and this time, the young people came up with some very impressive and funny lies! We had lots of laughs and brushed up on our questioning skills to try and figure out which stories were false, and which were real.

We always look forward to bringing young people together for our digital games’ evenings. They are totally inclusive and provide a great way to get to know one another in a fun and safe environment. 90% of young people diagnosed with cancer experience anxiety, these activities invariably lead to bouts of laughter that stimulate endorphins. So, what seems like the simple act of having fun helps boost serotonin, relieves symptoms of anxiety, and increases enthusiasm in all areas of life.

To everyone who has supported our project to combat loneliness in teenagers and young adults fighting cancer, a HUGE thank you. With your help we will be able to help more young people to overcome the challenges that cancer brings.

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Teenagers and young adults fighting cancer face a significant impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing.  90% experience anxiety; 70% experience depression and 83% experience loneliness.  Our Brownie Baking Activity is designed to counter these, and other impacts – with the benefits going beyond the nutritional ones.

This activity was an online session – ahead of it, the young people were sent a special delivery, containing all the ingredients they needed to make a delicious batch of Brownies.

Sometimes, even accepting your diagnosis can be hard, but baking can be used as a great coping mechanism, centring the young people in the present with small tasks to focus on, in a manner similar to meditation.  Studies show that baking helps to address depression, anxiety, and stress. It’s a great way to express how you feel, take account of your fears and anxieties.

Baking can give the young people a real sense of control – essential when they are going through treatment as so many decisions are made for them, leaving them feeling that they have no control.

Additionally, it improves both motor and cognitive skills – many cancer patients report “chemo fog” which causes thinking and memory issues, fine motor skills can also be impacted during and after treatment.  Recording and adding the ingredients, weighing and mixing all help with both.

As they log on and learn, with others, the techniques to making their batch of brownies they learn patience – a particularly useful skill for young people living in the immediacy of the digital age where they can interact with others on the other side of the globe and watch entire sessions of shows in a few sittings.

For these young people, isolated by their illness, losing their confidence and self-esteem, cooking with others improves their self-esteem, gives them a great feeling of accomplishment, and is an extremely rewarding experience that helps to rebuild confidence.

For everyone who has supported our project, a big thank you from the Team and the young bakers who really enjoyed connecting with each other and making a delicious treat.

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Even though the Covid-19 restrictions have lifted, the young people we support are cautious about meeting face to face and using public transport to get about – their weakened immune systems making them still vulnerable. So, we are continuing to deliver some of our activities digitally, and the Teens love a digital quiz night.

The health benefits of taking part in a quiz are well documented. Aside from the obvious exercise your brain gets from taking part, there is the opportunity to connect with others – to put your phone down and actually talk to people.

This time the Teens confirmed the address of The Dursley’s, told us every flavour of Bertie Bott’s Beans and proffered the name of the tree that Ron & Harry crashed their car in to as they took on a quiz which was all things Harry Potter.

By taking part in the activity the young people were able to digitally access Teens Unite’s support, interact and socialise with others who get what they’re going through, learn something new and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

To everyone who has supported our project, a huge thank you, together we will work to ensure that no young person faces cancer alone.

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We are busy planning a new event in our calendar and one which we are so excited about – we will be inviting the young people to join us for our first ever cinema event – and best of all, it will be Christmas themed!

We will be creating our very own Winter Wonderland, with a large screen, huge beanbags, cosy blankets, hot water bottles and hot chocolate – and best of all a screening of the now Christmas Classic, Elf! We might even do a bit of singing, as we all know “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”.

 As well as a great film, good food and lots of Christmas cheer, the young people will

  • Interact and socialise with others who get what they’re going through
  • Make new friends and catch up with those they’re already made
  • Reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Enjoy a face-to-face event with others in a similar situation

To everyone who supports our projects to combat loneliness in young people fighting cancer, a huge thank you, and remember “there’s room for everyone on the Nice List!”

From the Teens Unite Family to yours, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Teens Unite are committed to ensuring an excellent beneficiary service, helping young people feel welcomed, valued, relaxed and “at home” with friends who genuinely understand what it is like to face cancer in your teenage and young adult years.

So, in the time since our last report we have been working hard to ensure that we continue to create a very special experience for all young people who register for our services.

We have been reviewing our process, and developing them further, working with our connections at over 30 hospitals throughout the UK, late-effects teams, and paediatric oncology specialists, past cancer patients and those who we have already welcomed, taking on their feedback and suggestions to ensure that we continually review and respond to deliver to meet the specific needs of beneficiaries.

We want to make sure that the young people know that whilst cancer can be tough, it doesn’t have to be lonely, we want them to understand our culture, our values and how we work, so our welcome process starts from the moment they sign up. Our Teens Liaison team will make a call to the young person, introduce themselves and spend some time getting to know them.

On the call, they will ask which welcome pack the Teen would like to receive. Our packs are tailored to the Teen, to best meet their needs. The packs contain carefully selected, genuinely thoughtful and useful gifts – and the Teens can choose from

Comfort – as well as reducing the side-effects of treatment (nausea, cold extremities, and dry skin) the pack provides a little “hug” and peace of mind knowing that the items at hand will help

Selfcare – designed to comfort and pamper – safe, kind skincare products that show love, bring relief and comfort. Or,

Creative – practical, fun and creative items deigned to aid expression and communication, focussing the mind, keeping the young people centred, present and entertained

After this first call, the Teens are invited to our weekly #bettertogether Zoom Call where everyone who has joined around the same time is welcomed together. We take some time to go through how all our events work and have a good chat to get to know one another. If anyone has any questions or suggestions about the events, this is the chance for them to let us know and discuss anything they would like to know more about.

We are very grateful for all your support which has helped us develop a process that ensures that more of the seven young people, who every day in the UK hear the words “you have cancer” are welcomed, valued and very much feel part of the Teens Unite Family.

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Organization Information

Teens Unite Fighting Cancer

Location: Broxbourne - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @teensunite
Project Leader:
Lesley Morris
Broxbourne, United Kingdom
$2,441 raised of $31,000 goal
 
70 donations
$28,559 to go
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