After a traumatic life experience like going through cancer treatment or watching a sibling receive treatment and potentially dying, teens struggle with their emotions as much as any adult. Yet, they are often quiet or unaware about their true feelings. Teens with cancer can feel extremely isolated from their peers. Siblings often feel like their emotions are not as serious or relevant as their sick brother or sister’s. And when parents are grieving one of their children, it is often difficult for them to focus on their surviving children’s needs.
During a time when so much is changing and they are just beginning to understand more about themselves and the world around them, the diagnosis or death of a sibling can be extremely traumatic. And trauma, when not addressed, is stored and reveals itself in dangerous ways down the road. At Rett’s Roost, we believe strongly in peer connections to address the loneliness of a life threatening illness and navigate how to move forward in healthy ways.
We know teens are overloaded with Zoom right now during this pandemic. And we also understand that their self-esteem is still developing, which means that speaking to a group about a most sacred and heart-rending experience isn’t easy. Instead of a Zoom retreat like we offer for parents, we’ve decided to offer something akin to a “Pen Pal” program.
Teens can sign up to be matched with a peer that has endured a similar experience of pediatric cancer and/or loss. We will connect the teens via email and they can decide whether they would like to communicate via phone, email, text, or other message apps. We will not monitor their conversations, however, we will check in monthly to make sure that the connection has been helpful to both participants. Please have the teen themself fill out the following application, which asks a few questions about their experience and their general interests.