Cancer Support for Young Adults

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2019

You will likely want and need support during your cancer treatment. Your health care team, family and friends, and other people with cancer can all support you in different ways. This article gives you information on the types of support available to you and how to ask for help when you need it.

Talking with your health care team

It might be difficult to talk with your health care team at first. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. It is important to remember that you are the expert on how you feel. Your doctors and nurses are cancer experts who want to help, but they are not mind readers. Here are some tips for talking with them:

  • Be honest about how you are feeling, including whether you have side effects such as pain, low energy, or poor appetite. It is important for your health care team to know how your body is responding to the cancer and treatment.

  • If you are in the hospital, do not be afraid to tell the nurses and other hospital staff what you need. They are there to help make you as comfortable as possible.

  • If you still feel uncomfortable talking with your health care team, ask a friend or your parents to help you find the right words.

Your health care team can help you find other support through the hospital or clinic. This might be a support group for people your age with cancer or a counselor, social worker, or therapist.

Talking with loved ones

Talking with someone you trust, such as a friend, teacher, or someone in your religious community can help you sort out what you are feeling and thinking. Friends and family can be some of your best supporters. Learn more about how to talk with your family and friends.

Talking with other young adults and teens with cancer

Other people your age with cancer may be going through many of the same things you are. They might share your worries and concerns. They can also give you emotional support and suggest ways to cope with side effects, school issues, and more.

Here are some tips for finding other people your age with cancer:

  • Talk with people your age who you meet at the hospital or treatment center

  • Check your hospital or treatment center for support groups for people your age. These groups usually have regular meetings where you can share experiences and offer each other support. Try going to a few meetings if you are curious or unsure.

  • Find organizations that help people with cancer

  • Check the list of resources for young adults and teens

  • Ask your health care team for recommendations

Finding support online

Talking online can sometimes be easier than talking in person. And you can usually find someone online any time of day.

If you are younger than 18, let your parents or caregivers know before you join an online group. Avoid sharing personal information, such as your name, address, or phone number.

Here are some resources to help you get started:

Cancer Support Community is an international nonprofit that provides support services through community centers, cancer centers, and online.

Imerman Angels pairs people with cancer, survivors, and caregivers with one-on-one support.

Stupid Cancer provides online support as well as in-person events for young adults with cancer

Patients Like Me can help you find an online community based on your age, gender identity, type of cancer, and more.

Smart Patients allows you to meet other people with the same cancer and find clinical trials.

In addition, mobile apps such as Belong and GRYT Health Cancer Community provide cancer support and connection.

You can search for your type of cancer on Instagram or Facebook, or search with a hashtag on Twitter to find online support and people to follow. You can also share your story on your own Twitter or Instagram, start a blog, or post a video diary. Learn more about finding reliable information on social media.

Getting professional help

You might prefer talking about some things with a professional. A counselor, social worker, or therapist can help. Most hospitals and treatment centers have mental health professionals who can help you cope with cancer. Ask your doctor to recommend someone who works with people your age with cancer.

Writing, drawing, or creating

When you do not feel like talking, writing can help. You might write your thoughts, feelings, and dreams in a journal or blog. Or you might prefer to draw or write music or a poem.

Related Resources

Online Communities for Support

Cancer and Your Family

Cancer and Your Friendships

Coping With Social Isolation as a Teen with Cancer

More Information

American Cancer Society: Find Support Programs and Services in Your Area

National Cancer Institute: Cancer Support Groups