5 responses to “The New York Times Tackles Teens and Cancer”

  1. cathy

    “Simone Weinstein, interviewed for the article, talked about how when she first started experiencing symptoms, it was written off. ‘She [her mother] thought I was being a normal, somewhat lazy, silly teenager.’” I know that feeling. I started developing hashimotos symptoms at 12 and severe symptoms at 14 and got a lot of ‘lazy/hysterical teenager’ dismissals. The fact that my PCOS caused mood swings didn’t help my cause either.

  2. sarahj

    Great post. Teenagedom is already an odd place to be, but dismissing symptoms and calls for help makes everything worse. I recognized behavior that eventually became known to me as social anxiety when I was about 11 (I’m 15 at the moment), but it was dismissed as “normal awkwardness and fear” for quite a long time. Jeez, do I hate those assumptions. “Your a teenager, intense mood swings are normal!” or the painfully over used “It’ll be better when your older!!”. I’ve also, unfortunately, not been able to pick my own speech language pathologist, tying into the whole “You can’t make decisions for yourself!!” theme.

  3. Chally

    Thanks so much for this, s.e.

  4. Kaitlyn

    Mom’s a former EMT (Navy) and she took my pulse a lot before the official thyroid diagnosis in ’01 (a couple months after I turned 13, making me an official teenager).

    It was scarily high, so one day we went to the local firehouse and asked one of the firemen (or an EMT or a combo of both, I don’t know) if he could check my pulse. It was scarily high.

    “Ma’am, your daughter may be on drugs.” “I’m not.” “Teenagers lie.”

    Thankfully, thyroid problems are relatively easy to spot (blood tests) and my doctors were very receptive, as was my mom, because (I don’t remember this, I mean I remember the headaches, but not telling her about them) I never complained about my pain until I got bad headaches. One trip to the neurologist later, I was on Pamalor, with heart palpitations. Went off that, heart beat still too high (108 while half-asleep), heart doctor, battery of tests, including blood, ta-da thyroid diagnosis. Pretty fast and only a couple missteps.

    It’s been harder as I’ve gotten older and my problems have been harder to prove. At the psych ward (4 months from 18), I was told that 17-year-olds don’t have that kind of pain, and I shouldn’t be seeing a gyno, blah blah blah you’re a kid. (Luckily, the minor ward was divided, so I spent it with teenagers/adolescents. The other side had little kids.) So what did the doctor put me on? Cymbalta, meant for adults. Head, meet desk.

    The worst is I don’t feel grown-up, and having the problems as I became a legal US citizen was confusing and hard. I had a kidney stone procedure a week before my 18th birthday, and was spoiled rotten in a mostly empty kid ward. 2 weeks later, in a different hospital. In the adult section. And mucho confusion about paperwork – can she sign this? Should her mom? On and on.

  5. Tamar Rowe

    University Student doesn’t quite equal ‘teenager’ (though, in the UK benefits system, they don’t exist at all – up to 16 is child, over 25 is adult, wtf?) but at 19 I had the following conversation with a doctor:

    Me: I’ve got a lump in my boob. Should it, like, get checked out or something?
    Doc: It’s probably nothing. You’re too young for it to be anything bad. *change subject*

    The lump has been there since I was 14 and hasn’t changed since, but he didn’t even let that into the conversation before it was dismissed. *grr*