But for some young people, with the right support, the experience of going through cancer can actually inspire them, giving them new focus to reshape their futures.
CLIC Sargent, today (26 November) publishes No young person with cancer left out, which examines the impact of cancer on young people’s education, employment and training.
The charity spoke to 205 young people aged 16 to 24 about how cancer had affected them. Two thirds (67%) said they were worried about the impact cancer would have on their education while 74% were concerned about the impact it would have on future employment.
Other key findings from the report included:
• More than half (54%) of the young people surveyed said they were not fully confident about preparing for job interviews after going through cancer while three out of five (61%) were concerned about how to disclose the fact they had cancer on an application form
• One in three (30%) young people in employment who had gone through cancer did not know what adjustments they were entitled to at work. A quarter (24%) disagreed that their employer made the adjustments they needed
• Just under half (47%) of the young people in education were not aware of the adjustments they were legally entitled to from their education provider after going through cancer. Two in five (41%) wished they had received more support.
The report also highlights the work CLIC Sargent is doing to help young people take control of their lives. Almost half the young people who took part in the research (46%) had been supported by CLIC Sargent. Nearly all of these (95%) said that support from the charity helped them improve their confidence while 86% reported that the charity helped them find education and work opportunities.
In addition, many young people who were supported by CLIC Sargent said going through cancer and treatment had given them a new perspective on life.
Jack Meeks, 20, was supported by CLIC Sargent after being diagnosed with leukaemia just after leaving school at 16. He changed his career plans after reassessing his future during his treatment.
He said: “Cancer made me realise life is too short to just breeze through it. It made me want to strive to achieve something and do something more challenging that I’d enjoy. My CLIC Sargent Young People’s Community Worker Anita helped me think about life after cancer. She encouraged me to pursue what I most wanted to do.
“Something like cancer makes you really want to achieve your ambitions. I’d never wish cancer upon anyone. But I’m glad I had it because it’s helped me turn my life around.”
CLIC Sargent Director of Services Dara de Burca said: “For too many young people cancer diagnosis and treatment can mean missing out at a crucial point in their education or at the very beginning of their career. We know that as well as the physical impact of cancer and its treatment, young people are affected emotionally and it can seriously damage their confidence.
“However, as this report shows, if young people are given enough support, a cancer diagnosis does not have to mean the end of their ambitions. CLIC Sargent is committed to supporting all children and young people with cancer and we aim to expand our young people’s services as we are simply not yet able to support all those who need us.”
CLIC Sargent is committed to using the findings from the report to inform the development of its support services for young people. This will include expanding its online information hub for young people and CV service, increasing face-to-face support, developing its online peer-support community and developing its work experience programme.
CLIC Sargent needs to increase its net income by 50% in order to expand its services to meet the needs of all children and young people with cancer and their families. The charity is calling on the public to help raise vital funds by getting involved in fundraising activities this December – which is Childhood Cancer Awareness month in the UK.