Tips and Stories

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How Canteen and Canteen Connect Has Helped Me


Canteen Connect is a forum that offers free cancer support and is a space that holds all! It can be super helpful to find resources and articles for information that may be difficult to find elsewhere, information relating to young people, often composed by young people. When fertility treatments were suggested for me, I really wanted to know everything I could, and Connect allowed me to do that. My internet searches were very broad and tailored more toward middle aged women; and as a 15-year-old at the time, I found that really isolating. I felt like the only young person to undergo such treatments, and that it wasn’t meant for me.  

an image of emily, a canteen youth leader, sitting with her dog nala

My name is Emily, I am so happy to share the wonders of Canteen Connect with everyone. I love nature and walks with my dog Nala.

Canteen’s resource on fertility treatments was tailored to me, and people like me! Upon adding a discussion post on Connect, I found that fertility treatments weren't as uncommon as I thought and the people, I connected with here were facing the same choice I was, allowing me to not feel so embarrassed, isolated or alone.  

an image of rose-may, a canteen youth leader, standing in front of sydeny harbour

I’m Rosie-May, Canteen has supported me since I was 15 and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my story! I love musicals and songwriting.

I began my journey with Canteen at 15 when I’d been struggling with anxiety and fitting in at a new school. I knew that the last thing I needed was to be labelled as the new kid who lost a sister to cancer. During this tough time, I wasn’t receiving much support other than from family. I did some googling one evening and stumbled upon Connect. I had no clue at the time, but that simple click onto the Connect webpage, would change my life. I was overjoyed when I saw the threads of people just like me. After speaking to a counsellor that same night and reading ‘Discussions’... one thing led to another and just a few months later, I was having monthly Canteen zoom meetings with siblings affected by cancer. I was able to learn and share experiences without the fear of judgement but reassurance that my feelings were valid. I then was offered opportunities to grow in leadership. I have grown as an individual and Canteen gave me hope and direction in a dark time. I can’t put into words how grateful I am to be involved with Canteen, who continue to help those who were lost like me, to have a voice and be heard. 

 Canteen offers so much free cancer support not only to young people like us, but to our parents and friends who can access information on how they can support us too! Canteen enables us to grow and learn more about not only others, but ourselves. We’ve had incredible ‘once-in-a-lifetime' opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. 

an image of emily and rosie-may standing together at the canteen youth leadership festival in 2022


an image of emily and rose-may standing together at the canteen youth leadership festival in 2022

Emily and Rosie-May at the Canteen Youth Leadership Festival 2022

Canteen Australia and Canteen Aotearoa offer support for young people/rangatahi affected by cancer through:  

- Sharing stories to direct messaging fellow peers here on Connect 

- Free counselling and support sessions (face to face or online) 

- Leadership opportunities  

- Programs and Events (face to face or online) 

- Workshops and more! 

In times of isolation, physically or mentally, this community really is, as the name states, a place to connect. In a world with such a high rate of cancer, it is surprising that it is a difficult topic to talk about. There are no topics which are taboo here. The ability to share stories and advice is paramount. Canteen Australia and Canteen Aotearoa have enabled those who share this same burden, to lighten their load in a safe and welcoming environment. 

 Find out about more support options with us beyond Connect, by getting in touch here:  

Canteen Australia: You can refer someone here or visit Cancer Hub

Canteen Aotearoa: You can refer someone here