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Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Ask Us Anything:Service Spotlight.jpg


CanTeen Australia is a not for profit organisation that help young people cope with cancer in their family. While CanTeen have worked closely with young people in providing services to them such as the CanTeen Connect online community, they have recently launched a new online community specifically for parents affected by cancer and provide tailored support and resources to assist in their families cancer journey – CanTeen Connect for Parents 


Throughout this week long event you will be able to ask CanTeen Australia questions about their services and also have a chat about the shared experience in the challenges around being a parent who is affected by a tough time or whose children are going through a tough time.


CanTeen will also prompt us with a few questions and insights along the way as well!


This event will open on Monday 28 Oct 10am and closes Friday 1 Nov 4pm (AEDT)


If you wish to submit an anonymous question for this event, please feel free to do so here.


Want to receive an email reminder when this event opens? Hit the 'Support' button below.



I'm new here - what is Ask Us Anything?

The Ask Us Anything event is a thread that is open from Monday - Friday, where a special guest organisation will tell us a bit about themselves and their service/s and you can ask them questions! The guest organisation will be checking in each day to answer and reply. We really encourage you to come along and ask any question you like, there will be no judgement and no question too big or small. Closer to the event, there will be an option to submit anonymous questions too!


How do I get involved?

Ask Us Anything takes place right here! It's text based, so no software is needed. Come to this thread anytime throughout the week it is open and get involved by posting or submitting an anonymous question (link is shared in the blurb above!)


Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Good morning everyone! Welcome to those that wanted a reminder too @Determined @eth @CheerBear @Snowie @Everan 


Welcome to Ask Us Anything Smiley Happy This week we are lucky enough to have special guests from @CanTeenConnect  to answer any of your questions about the services they offer, the cancer journey you or your loved one might be on and/or challenges you are facing as a parent when your loved one is going through a tough time. CanTeen have recently launched a new online community that they are excited to share with us as well!


So - this thread is open from now until Friday, post your question and CanTeen will respond throughout the day OR you are can also submit a question via the anonymous form here and we will post it up on your behalf 👍


To start us off I thought I would get @CanTeenConnect to introduce themselves and to anyone else that is interested in this topic area, feel free to tell us a bit about what brought you to this event?


Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Hello SANE Australia Carer's Forum folks - thanks so much for having us, and happy Monday Smiley Happy


It's a pleasure to be able to talk to you all about the newly formalised parent support we are offering through CanTeen Connect for Parents. CanTeen has been working with young people 12-25 impacted by cancer for over 30 years now, and it's a huge step for us to formally offer support to the key champions for these YP - their parents. It's work we've been informally doing ever since we started, so making it official just made sense to us!

Via CanTeen Connect for Parents, earlier in the year we launched our own online Parent community - where parent peers can talk, trade stories, offer tips and express frustrations with the huge family challenge that is cancer. We have parents discussing their own cancer diagnosis and treatment, exploring the illness of their partner, or finding thier way through the impact of bereavement on their kids if someone in the family has died.


The CanTeen Support Service is also offering some professional structured counselling for parents, focussed on parenting challenges and communication about cancer in their family. This can be face to face in various CanTeen locations across the country, or via our distance counselling team.


We're excited to see the parent community take flight, and to really see peer support in action - something that happens so well on these very forums we're a guest of this week. Looking forward to some good chats, ask away Smiley Happy

Ross from the CanTeen Online Support Service team.


Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Hi Ross and @CanTeenConnect. Sounds like some awesome services you offer. I find peer support so helpful and it's great to hear that has been set up through your organisation for parents to support each other too. I'm looking forward to learning some more about the supports you offer families affected by cancer. Thanks for coming along to share with us.

What brought me to this event is that 'parenting through tough times' is something I think is so important to talk about and support families in general with. As well as this, at the moment my kids and I are working through the impact of cancer in our lives as someone close to us has been living with cancer and is nearing the end of their journey through it. It's hit us all hard in lots of ways.

Something I'm interested in getting some ideas about, which I think can probably be applied to many challenges families face, is how to talk with kids about seriously tough stuff in a way that is 'real' without being too scary or upsetting. I find it such a tricky balance. Do you have any tips or suggestions?

Thanks again 🙂

Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Thanks for the great questions and curiosity @CheerBear! Really sorry to hear that you're currently dealing with the fallout from cancer in your family too.
Even though CanTeen only works with family members directly impacted, it's just so unarguable that the ripple impact of any close person in your world facing the worst possible outcome is huge. I hope even when nearing the end of life, your loved one is able to treasure moments of connection and joy.
From our point of view, as hard as it is, being as honest and open with young people (YP) is something we at CanTeen recommend. We know that the better the family communication about cancer, treatment and prognosis the better the outcome for YP, even if that outcome is dealing with sadness, loss and anticipatory bereavement. Research evidence tells us that YP tend to fill any and all information gaps with the worst possible fears, and perhaps even worse, with something similar to blaming themselves for the situation.
Even if situations are scary and upsetting, we think it's really important that YP feel incuded in these information loops, and in decision making about end of life. If not, the risk is that kids are caught totally by surprise when someone's health quickly deteriorates and/or they don't have a chance to contribute towards saying goodbye.

There is so much possible joy in the times between bad prognosis and death - meaning making, saying the things you haven't said, memorialising... all of these are so valuable for a young person who is about to lose someone important (or if they themselves are dying). All too often we at CanTeen have to work through the pain that YP feel when they were not told that someone was about to die - and so as hard as it is to parent in this kind of situation, we know that YP need to know the truth and be supported to be part of the family process.
(Important to remember that we're working with 12-25 year olds, so this might be different for the little ones.)


Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

@CheerBear thanks for bringing up a really important question at what must be a really tough time for you and your family. @CanTeenConnect its really insightful to hear how important it is to keep young people informed throughout tough times- I can imagine thats easier said than done but so good to acknowledge and notice the overall benefit it has to a young person in the larger scheme of a journey like this. 


We have a question for @CanTeenConnect that has been submitted through our anonymous question form (if you want to sumbit an anonymous question just click here):


My teenager doesn’t want to talk about what’s happening for my partner (who’s going through cancer treatment). What should I do?


Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Hi @Lauz ... thanks for the question! It's a common concern for lots of families going through cancer.


I think one of the reasons it's important there's a place like CanTeen is that the overlap of cancer + adolescence is such a tricky one. We all remember being a teenager... and how that can usually bring tension with our family (as we find our own identity outside home) and stress within ourselves (as we look to understand big questions about life, and what we want). 


So it's a really normal reaction for young people (like all of us) to feel overwhelmed by all of that plus a cancer diagnosis in their family, and perhaps shut-off from conversation for a while. This might mean they're thinking things through; are feeling really scared, angry or frustrated; or even just be trying to keep everything else on track (like study, sport, work, friends). It's important to let them know that it's okay to feel a whole range of things as they see their parent so unwell, and keep the door open for chats when (and how) they are ready.


...I say 'how', as how you chat about this tough stuff is also flexible. It doesn't have to be over the dinner table, or in a whole family coversation. Often thinking about how you've had tricky conversations with your young person in the past (eg around sex, drugs, curfew etc), will guide you as to how they prefer to communicate. Big convos often happen in the car on the way somewhere, on a walk with the dog, over a coffee in a cafe, even over text. Ask them too if they want to know everything at once, or just what's important for now. The more you can tailor communication to how both you and your young person are comfortable, the greater chance of openess as you go through the ups-and-downs of cancer. And remember to go gently with yourself here too, and have someone you can chat with (like a good friend)... it's a tough job!



[CanTeen also has a resource about this called Parenting Through Cancer which you can download. And linking your young person with us also provides them with another avenue for seeking support, accurate info (not Dr Google), and meeting others... we'd love to meet them, and you, online (for young people/for parents) or in our offices accross Australia]


Thinking of you in these big conversations - keep the questions coming! Would love to hear how some of the awesome carers here have managed big convos like this?

Cara from CanTeen (online counsellor) Smiley Happy


Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Thats great feedback around the 'how' of a big conversation with young adults @CanTeenConnect - for any supporters coming through we would love your insight on how you have managed and had a big convo with young adults in your family?


Meanwhile we have another anonymous question submission for you @CanTeenConnect :


Someone in our close family has died from cancer recently. My teenage child won’t talk about it, hasn’t cried, and is really angry. Is that normal?


Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Thanks again @Lauz for sending through this question Smiley Happy


Grief is one of those topics that's still quite taboo in a way - it's a process we don't often talk about openly. For young people especially, who may be grieving the death of someone close to them for the first time, it can be hugely disorientating. How do I act at a funeral? What if I just feel numb, or don't know how to describe what I'm feeling? How do I keep it together without crying, or making other people I care about even more upset?










At CanTeen, we talk about grief as being a uniquely individual process - there's no 'right way' to grieve, or a set timeline, or set emotions you need to feel. This is based on who you are, your relationship with your loved one who died, and what's going on for you at the moment.


The work of grief (and it is hard work) is going between:

*'Grief stuff': moments where we mourn, and connect with who has died;

*and 'Life Stuff': the time we spend continuing on with everyday life, and planning forward.

Depending on the day, year, or our personality perhaps, some of us might spend more time in that 'grief stuff', and some in the 'life stuff'. Both sides are important. And it changes over time. [this is called the dual process of grief, for those who are interested to research more!]


This can be distressing, heartbreaking, or even awkward as we watch others who grieve differently to us (especially in families). As much as possible (knowing that you are going through grief too), role modelling to young people that it's okay to experience grief in different ways is the best way forward. Let them know that grief can mean being overwhelmed, numb, sadness, guilt, or even anger. All we can do is be with each other, as the grief comes and goes.


Anger can be a way of expressing things when it's all-too-much, and there's often other emotions underneath. Finding a physical outlet for their energy and anger can he helpful (kick a soccer ball around, jump on a trampoline, knead some bread dough, or what fits for your young person); and keeping the stories of your loved one in conversation shows safety around talking about the loss of that person in their day-to-day lives (when they are ready, and if they want to).


They also might benefit from meeting other young people who have been though a similar bereavement. At CanTeen, we support young people 12-25 who have a parent/carer or sibling who has died from cancer - we run specialised camps and groups, individual support, and our online space for young people has lots of bereavement-specific discussions.

We also have these resources you can order/download and give to your young person, or use as a convo starter:



Thinking of you and your family, Cara (online counsellor)


Re: Ask Us Anything // Parenting through tough times featuring CanTeen // Mon 28 Oct - Fri 1 Nov

Thanks so much Cara @CanTeenConnect for that response - grief is definately not easy to go through and can be hard to know how to support someone travelling through grief too. Those resources and information are really helpful!


Its our last day all! So if you have any further questions please feel free to post them here today, we are open until 4pm AEDT. Meanwhile we have another question from our anonymous form for you @CanTeenConnect (if you don't want to post your question you can submit it here and we will post it for you)


One of my children is in treatment, and the other sibling is being super supportive, but I can see that they aren’t hanging out with their friends as much. There’s so much pressure on them, and I don’t know how to change that?

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