January of 2018 was the beginning of some of the toughest challenges I have faced in my life. I was starting my first year of senior schooling (year 11) at the same time as the diagnosis of my mum's aggressive and rare form of breast cancer.
As mum embarked on her gruelling journey of treatments that included surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, her condition deteriorated and my role as her primary carer became a distressing and isolating experience that was impacting my study and wellbeing. With the help and encouragement from my school guidance officer, I joined Canteen.
Upon joining Canteen, isolation and helplessness gave way to a feeling of being understood and having others actively making a difference to my wellbeing and future. I was provided with individual support and also had the chance to participate in programs, involving trips away that allowed me to escape the daily challenges of being a carer for a parent with cancer and to connect with other young people who have been impacted by cancer. These connections and friendships have taught me valuable skills and allowed me to understand the diverse challenges and hardships that occur with cancer. Also, very importantly I have a growing group of friends who understand my situation.
Through these experiences, I have learned and developed an understanding of the significance of Canteen in supporting young people through the daily challenges of cancer. This has inspired me to get involved in advocating for Canteen, by sharing my story and raising awareness of the impacts of cancer on young people and the amazing support services that Canteen provides.