Ahead of National Bandanna Day on Friday October 26th, market research commissioned by CanTeen, the only organisation in Australia dedicated to providing tailored support for young people aged 12-25 affected by cancer, reveals that over 1/3 of Australians would be willing to support a young person or family if affected by cancer.

When asked how they would go about providing support for young people, the top answers were offering to help with meals, cleaning or transportation to appointments talking to them about their experience, by taking them to fun activities or events, and donating to a cancer-related charity.

Cassandra Taylor, Senior Counsellor at CanTeen joins Dave and says although friends and family are clearly really well intentioned by offering to talk or provide logistical support for example, in our experience we’ve found that many young people who have been affected by cancer feel like they can’t confide in their friends and family as they simply don’t understand them. This is why often young people benefit greatly from opting to receive professional support through an organisation like CanTeen.”

Cassandra continues, “Based on this finding, we believe that educating Australians on what a cancer experience looks like and how to support young people affected is really critical. That’s why there are a range of free resources on our website that help people understand what cancer is like for them. And we know professional support work because after just six months of support from CanTeen, almost 2/3 of young people affected by cancer report improvements in their mental health and overall wellbeing.”

An example of a young adult who found it difficult to confide in their friends during their family’s cancer experience is Ryan Turner who is now aged 17.

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In 2008, Ryan’s Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and later passed away in 2015. He joined CanTeen in mid-2013 as his cancer experience became harder to deal with.

Ryan comments, “As I grew in my understanding of cancer, I found myself not being as vocal or out there as I used to be. I became quite introverted and didn’t know how to talk to my friends about how I was feeling without scaring them off.  So, I rarely talked to them about what was going on. I also found myself hiding the fact that mum had cancer when I was meeting new people.”

He continues, “Joining CanTeen was a massive game changer as peer support and forums on their online platform helped me through the tough times.”

When asked about donation habits, the market research revealed that 59% of Australians have never donated to a charity that supports young people affected by cancer.

The top reasons for not donating were that respondents choose to donate to other charities (41%), others can’t afford to donate (37%) and some respondents believe that not enough money/funding actually goes to helping those affected (18%).

The data also found that over 1 in 5 Australians believed a small contribution (less than $50) wouldn’t make a real impact on young people affected by cancer.

Cassandra comments on this finding, “We’ve found that some people are under the impression that they have to make a large donation to cancer charities to make a true impact. However, a small difference can really go a long way. For example, with every 20 bandannas sold on National Bandanna Day, this will allow a young person to attend a Recreation Day to take a break from the daily pressures of living with cancer.”

Ryan concludes, “I truly hope Australians understand the impact that even one bandanna can make for a young person affected by cancer. CanTeen’s National Bandanna Day is honestly one of the best days of the year for me as I get to see all of the support for the organisation I love out in full swing and I urge everyone to try get involved in some way.”

National Bandanna Day is the major fundraising and awareness campaign for CanTeen. All funds raised go towards helping young people deal with their emotions about cancer, connect with peers in similar situations, and attend online and face-to-face counselling. If they’ve been diagnosed themselves, the not-for-profit organisation provides Youth Cancer Services (YCS) which are specialised treatment and support services for young people with cancer based in major hospitals throughout Australia.

Australians can show their support by donating or purchasing a bandanna, with prices starting at $5. For more information, visit: www.bandannaday.com