Coping with cancer
This is an article I wrote for Bold Magazine at headspace Mildura about my experiences with canteen and how they have helped me through a really tough time in my life. I was encouraged to post it by one of the Canteen leaders I've been in touch with for the past few months, She said it would be awesome if I could share my story with everyone. I hope you all like it. :)
My whole world turned upside down when I found out my dad had cancer. I felt miserable at school, I felt like I didn't really belong with my friends. it was a really hard time for my family and living in such a rural place, it was so hard to find support. I found it really hard to talk to friends, family, teachers about how I was feeling. was very lost and there were moments where I would run out of class because I was having a panic attack from all the stress, worry, concern and sadness going on at home.
At home, we did our best to stay as optimistic as possible and I would do whatever I could to make my Dad laugh. In fact I tried to do that with all my family. I would put pressure on myself to look after my family and make sure they were being taken care of. I was their rock. I didn't feel like I could be a teenager anymore. I felt all grown up.
When my Dad passes away last year, I felt very lost and I isolated myself from my friends a lot of the time. I didn't really go out, I always locked myself away from everyone. Canteen were so supportive when Dad passed away, they told me "share as much as you want or if you don't want to, you don't have to, go at your own pace".
When I heard my Dad only had 2 years left to love in 2017, I was so overwhelmed with emotion I didn't know what to feel or how to act around my friends, at school or work. I never felt more alone. My Dad was the one that told me about Canteen and what they do.
When Canteen first contacted me over the phone, I was a little nervous talking about my situation and how I was feeling. the canteen leaders are very supportive and do whatever they can to make you feel welcomed and comfortable.
The connections with other young people that I've made have been so amazing. I still talk to people I met on my very first canteen trip back in 2017. One of the main things Canteen strives for is the interactions with young people the know and understand what your going through, that's what i've gotten out of it. The vibe is always so positive and the effort that canteen puts into these trips is just outstanding.