Being a Teen with Cancer

Savannah is a 15-year-old girl from Ashland. Her life was filled with being a cheerleader and a varsity lacross player. Then in March, she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Thanks to her compassionate coaches and friends, Savannah continues to be a part of her cheerleading and lacross team. At Connor's Heroes, we've guided many teenagers through this time. We offer support where and when it is needed the most. We give them space to process the emotions of their cancer and surprise them with a plush stuffed animal to cuddle when they need comfort. Savannah talks about what it means to be a teenager with cancer. Her mom, Jacquelyn, also shares her thoughts on how she deals with her daughter's diagnosis. 

Savannah shared her thoughts:

Don’t give up. Looks are not your #1 priority. It’s hard for girls who are in their teens to lose their hair or lose the shape you once had. I was an athlete. I cheered for my high school and played varsity lacrosse. It made me angry when I couldn’t do things that came so easy to me before. When you are sick you lose energy. It’s hard to accept that. When you look in the mirror and see a different person then you are used to looking at it can take a toll on you mentally. Just remember that this is temporary. You will get back to being yourself. It will not be the old self that you remember because you will appreciate the important things in life. I’m not saying that this is a blessing because it’s hard and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone but I do feel that I am lucky because after the hardest climb I received the best view.

Savannah's mom, Jacquelyn said: 

When I was asked to give advice to families who are dealing with childhood cancer I thought giving advice would be easy. I could tell you to keep the faith, stay positive, ask for help, etc. The truth is all those things are very important but I think the best advice I could give is to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with this disease. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to question your faith. It’s ok to smile even when your world seems to be crumbling down. Watching your child go through this disease is the most terrifying emotional roller coaster that you will ever experience. You will see moments that will break your heart. You will wonder “why my child?” You will be angry. You will be angry because the world around you does not stop when you feel like your world has. Your child will look different. Chemo changes their appearance. The crazy thing is you see an awesome beauty that comes from within them. Their inner beauty glows stronger than ever. You will watch your child grow into a courageous warrior. It’s amazing how strong they can be. Don’t feel guilty when you are not sad. Your child needs normalcy…. Savannah will return to her new normal one day and I want her to remember this chapter in her life as a fight but one that allowed her to feel the emotions and allowed her to grow stronger. You will see that your family will grow stronger as well. To all the families out there who are fighting the good fight you are not alone. Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Stay as normal as possible and keep the faith.