Teen Guidebook

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A Support Guidebook for Teens When Your Parent Has Cancer

If you are ages 13-18 years old and your parent or grandparent has been diagnosed with cancer, this guidebook is for you.

This resource is to help you explore and learn more about what it means to be a teenager with a parent or grandparent with cancer. You are probably experiencing a wide range of thoughts and feelings like anger, sadness, fear, and worry. These are all very real and normal feelings. You are not alone.


This book will explore:

  • Cancer basics
  • Thoughts and feelings
  • Coping and support ideas

What do you know about cancer?

Do you feel in shock? Confused? Angry? Cancer is a scary word, isn’t it? What does having cancer mean to you? It is important for you to decide how much or little information you need or want right now. You may want to reread this guidebook later when you feel ready. Here is some basic information to understand right away before you continue reading. Consider the bold words as you read.

Cancer Facts

Almost everyone knows someone who got very sick or died from cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 14 million Americans with a previous cancer diagnosis are living in the United States. People are living longer after a cancer diagnosis because of advances in early detection and treatment. People also have a better quality of life during cancer treatment due to a significant increase in research in the last 10 years.

You did not cause this diagnosis.

This seems like an obvious statement, but it is often helpful to hear. There is nothing you said or did that caused your parent or grandparent’s illness. Cancer is caused by a variety of factors; most of which doctors still do not fully understand. The most important thing to know is that you are not to blame.

You are not alone.

There are other teens experiencing very similar feelings that you are right now. Many feel alone and helpless. You may feel hesitant to talk with your parent or grandparent because you want to protect them from your feelings. If you aren’t yet ready to ask questions, find a friend, school nurse, or a trusted adult to talk to. This may begin to ease the feeling of being alone and eventually make it easier to talk to your parent or grandparent. You are not alone.


For questions about this guidebook, or to have a telephone consultation, please contact Melissa Turgeon at (612) 627-9000 ext. 507 or mturgeon@mnangel.org.