Teenage Cancer Trust’s new campaign gives young people a platform to share their thoughts and feelings about body image, and how they stay body positive
This October, Teenage Cancer Trust is running its #StillMe campaign to shine a light on the impact that cancer and treatment can have on young people’s body image, confidence, and self-esteem. The charity has worked with a diverse group of young people to produce blogs, videos and other content highlighting their perspective on cancer and body image.
Cancer and cancer treatment can have a huge impact on what your body looks like. And, for young people who are still figuring out who they are and how they want the world to see them, that can be especially difficult to deal with.
Cancer can really change your image. When you’re young, that’s especially tough to deal with. But you’re still you. We’re here to help you remember that. #StillMe https://t.co/pClSTA1t2l pic.twitter.com/UYWhA1mkGT— Teenage Cancer Trust (@TeenageCancer) October 1, 2019
Every day, seven young people in the UK aged 13 to 24 are diagnosed with cancer. Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Coordinators, who are based in hospitals and local communities across the UK, provide emotional and practical support that helps young people cope with the impact of cancer on their lives, including the impact of changes to their bodies.
Seren, Chloe and Holly are some of the many young people across the UK whose cancer and treatment led to physical changes such as amputations, scarring, hair loss, weight fluctuations and facial tumours. They are speaking out about their experiences as part of the #StillMe campaign – and sharing how they’ve managed to stay body positive.
Seren Jenkins, 19 from Blackwood, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in February this year and, now in remission, she is speaking out about the impact of losing her hair and how she approached this experience as a chance to experiment with different looks.
“If you can have fun with how you look through clothing, hair or accessories, then do it!”
Seren said: “When I was diagnosed with cancer I cried as I was upset that I was going to lose my hair. I used to dye it all different colours and loved having colourful hair, I see it as a form of self-expression.
“I bought eight different wigs of all colours ranging from blue and purple, to pink and blonde. I would think: ‘What colour hair do I want today? Maybe pink’. I had some fun with it. I think it’s therapeutic to think like ‘oh I can just wake up and have pink hair or purple or I can dress really comfy or really bold’ just because I can!”
Seren has advice for other people going through treatment, adding:
“Look at this as an experimental thing, no one is going to judge you about how you look right now because you’re going through the worst thing imaginable. So if you can have fun with how you look through clothing, hair or accessories, then do it!”
Actor Chloe Thurlow, from Bristol, was diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Lymphoma aged 20. Chloe has always had an eclectic sense of style but, once treatment started and she lost her hair, she felt that she had lost her sense of identity. She stars in Teenage Cancer Trust’s film with beauty brand Tangle Teezer.
Chloe recalls: “I thought I’m only going in for chemo but I’m still going to put a pair of heels and a dress on and wear a big curly wig and that made me feel more like myself again. It’s still Chloe and I can still be who I am.
“In my head, I have always been like ‘I can’t go out with a bald head, what are people going to think?’ I’m quite self-conscious anyway so dressing up and being quite extravagant is probably a way to make me feel better – it’s like ‘oh yeah I look a bit bonkers but at least it’s fun.’”
Musician Holly Wellington, 25, also from Bristol, was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Holly, who performed at Glastonbury this year with her band Ishmael Ensemble, stars in Teenage Cancer Trust’s campaign film where she speaks about applying glitter and wearing shiny outfits to attend her chemo appointments.
Holly said: “I’d always put on glitter and my shiniest, comfiest clothes for chemo and walked in there like I was going to a party – it just made me feel so much more fierce!
“I don’t wear a wig at gigs because I feel really proud of what I’m going through. Being able to express through music has helped me while I’ve been going through treatment. It’s just such a feeling of release and strength standing there having people listen and watch me as a musician dealing with something so huge.”
Teenage Cancer Trust hopes that advice, hints and tips from young people like Seren, Chloe and Holly shared in the campaign’s inspiring #StillMe online films will help other people struggling with body issues, whatever their age.
To see more from the #StillMe campaign, visit Teenage Cancer Trust’s website.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. You can learn more about cancer, including how to talk to a child about cancer and how to support a loved one with a diagnosis on Counselling Directory.
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