By M. McGrath and Evelyn Griffith, CanTeen Ireland (from slideshowpresentation at the ICCCPO conference in Vancouver, September 2005)

Research suggests that 1 in 3 people will get cancer. However, cancer in young people is still rare. Approx 200 children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer each year in Ireland.

In Ireland teenagers with cancer are cared for in either Children’s Hospitals or Adult Hospitals – there are no Adolescent Units!!! That is why CanTeen was founded.

Mission Statement of CanTeen:

  • Nation-wide support group for young people and run by young people who have or have had cancer.
  • CanTeen Ireland offers support based on shared experience in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.


  • To offer support to young people with cancer.
  • To encourage and motivate young people to live with their experience of cancer.
  • To encourage the personal development of group members.

Supporting young people with cancer:

  • Peer support; TeenLink, Buddy System
  • Newsletters, Website, CanTeen-Video
  • Providing them with the opportunity to talk about their experience of cancer with others who have similar experiences
  • Weekends away and Day Meetings
  • Establishing links with organisations abroad, exchange visits

Developing young people with cancer

  • Challenging their perceptions of their abilities through activity weekends away
  • Identifying and encouraging talents, and personal skills
  • Providing opportunities to acquire new skills
  • Encouraging young people to lead as normal a life as possible

Empowering young people with cancer

  • Providing accurate, age appropriate information about cancer
  • Steering Committee has majority of teenagers
  • Access to training
  • Providing opportunities to take on responsible roles, developing their skills


We do not receive annual core funding. Much of it is from fundraising and once -off grants for specific projects. Annual sum from The Irish Cancer Society, and other Voluntary Organisations. Also grants from the Lottery, E.H.B, and Irish Youth Foundation. The women’s mini marathon is our biggest fundraiser. In 2004 € 33,000 was raised.

What Some of Our Members Say

  • You can RELATE to others who have been through the same thing
  • You are NOT ALONE and other teenagers get cancer too.
  • FUN, and you make lots of NEW FRIENDS.
  • CanTeen provides GREAT BACK UP.
  • Helps your SELF CONFIDENCE- people come out of themselves.
  • You can TALK THROUGH your problems
  • Helps ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE during your illness and afterwards.
  • CanTeen is a SUPPORT NETWORK and helps BUILD your SELF ESTEEM.
  • Change of scenery from the routine of hospital, and home. Time to get away from it all…

CanTeen Ireland Volunteers

  • Currently 26 volunteers (various professions, including healthcare).

The Supportive Role

  • Developing caring, responsible relationships with young people.
  • Listening, and respecting their points of view.
  • Encouraging and motivating.
  • Being there for young people.

The Organisational Role

  • Assisting the Co-ordinator with the smooth running of CanTeen activities.
  • Organising the members for group work, and for duties e.g. wash up duty!!
  • Preferably Organised Chaos!!

The Supervisory Role

  • Ensuring the safety and well being of young people during all CanTeen activities.
  • Dealing with instances of bullying, or disruptive behaviour.
  • Actively promoting inclusive behaviour amongst young people.

The Youth Work Role

  • Working in partnership with young people (Steering Committee).
  • Encouraging young people to express their thoughts and ideas.
  • Challenging young people’s perceptions of their -abilities.
  • Providing informal opportunities to learn new skills. Learn by Doing!

What our volunteers say about CanTeen

  • Fun, just to be with young people.
  • Meeting people with wonderful attitudes to life!
  • It’s fun to work as part of a group.
  • Meeting other leaders and making new friends!
  • Camaraderie between leaders.
  • Knowing that what I’m doing really makes a difference!

For more information contact: CanTeen Ireland, Carmichael Centre, North Brusnwick Street, Dublin 7, Tel. +01 8722012,