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How teenagers react to a breast cancer diagnosis

Teenagers may be particularly vulnerable to their mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer. They may be worried about how their mum is coping as well as dealing with their own feelings, and may take on the role of helping to run the house.

Daughters might worry whether they will also get breast cancer. It might be difficult for teenagers to talk about these issues.

Teenagers in the family might need to take on more household chores or help with their mother’s care. Disruption to their social outings or leisure activities can be issues for them. Sometimes this can make them feel that their needs are not being met. They might have an intense desire for life to return to ‘normal’ and feel resentful at the disruption to their lives and the change of roles within the family.

Teenagers might have a range of issues to face at this time, including:

  • worry about the effect of the cancer on their parents’ marriage and the stability of the family
  • feeling stigmatised because their mother has cancer
  • fear about whether treatment will be effective
  • concern about their relationship with the other parent
  • dealing with any unresolved issues
  • anxiety about the well parent
  • feeling isolated from friends
  • wanting to be closer to their mother.