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Impact of Cancer on Adolescent Education - Survey Report

Surveyor

Siya Heda, on behalf of Teens for Cancer Patients.


Introduction

Cancer is always a deadly disease, but it has largely gone unnoticed in light of the recent pandemic. Each year, an estimated 400,000 people of 0-19 years old develop cancer. It is still a severe problem and is not slowing down. While the impact of cancer on various aspects of a teenager’s life is well-documented, its impact on their education lacks widespread documentation.


This survey targeted adolescents aged 13-18, who have been impacted by cancer in any manner - through a personal diagnosis, diagnosis of a close friend or family or distant one. A comprehensive questionnaire, it aimed to collect statistics to measure the impact of a diagnosis on their education.


Duration of the survey

2 months (January and February 2022)


Total number of responses

80 respondents


Questionnaire

1. Which country do you reside in?

2. What is your age?

  • 13 years old

  • 14 years old

  • 15 years old

  • 16 years old

  • 17 years old

  • 18 years old

  • Prefer not to say

3. What grade are you currently in?

  • 8

  • 9 (Freshman)

  • 10 (Sophomore)

  • 11 (Junior)

  • 12 (Senior)

  • Prefer not to say

4. What method of schooling are you currently pursuing?

  • Homeschooling

  • Conventional schooling

  • Schooling through organisations

  • Hospital schooling

  • None

  • Prefer not to say

5. How have you been impacted by cancer?

  • Cancer survivor

  • Cancer patient

  • Caregiver

  • Internal family member has cancer

  • External family member has cancer

  • Prefer not to say

6. How long ago were you/your loved one diagnosed?

  • 1-3 months ago

  • 3-6 months ago

  • 6-9 months ago

  • 9–12 months ago

  • 12-15 months ago

  • 15-18 months ago

  • 18-21 months ago

  • 21-24 months ago

  • More than 2 years ago

  • Prefer not to say

7. Overall, how has cancer affected your education?

  • Negatively

  • Somewhat negatively

  • No impact

  • Somewhat positively

  • Positively

  • Prefer not to say

8. In what areas has the diagnosis affected your education?

  • Language and communication

  • Concentration, attention span and memory

  • Ability to finish tasks on time or to do assignments with many steps

  • Meeting homework deadlines

  • Planning and organising

  • Problem-solving

  • Social skills

  • Attendance

  • Ability to comprehend numbers

  • Prefer not to say

  • Other

9. How nervous were you about returning to school after the diagnosis of yourself/your loved one?

  • 1 (Very nervous)

  • 2

  • 3

  • 4

  • 5 (Not nervous)

10. What were your concerns about rejoining?

  • Being unable to deal with the workload

  • Not understanding what has been taught till now

  • Loss of peer support

  • Loss of teacher support

  • Making new friends

  • Prefer not to saw

  • Other

11. How smooth was your integration back into school?

  • 1 (Not difficult at all)

  • 2

  • 3

  • 4

  • 5 (Extremely difficult)

12. How supportive have the following been during the treatment?

  • School

  • Teachers

  • Peers

  • Healthcare professionals

Rated from:

  1. Very supportive

  2. Supportive

  3. Neutral

  4. Not supportive

  5. Prefer not to say

13. Which of the following solutions has your school implemented/should implement?

  • Extended deadlines

  • Extra classes

  • Reduced assignments

  • Having a peer help you out

  • Reduced attendance requirement

  • Modified test requirements

  • Availability of school counsellor

Rated from:

  1. Already implemented

  2. Should be implemented

  3. Not required

  4. Prefer not to say


Summarised Responses

1. Which country do you reside in?

23.4% - United States

12.5% - United Kingdom

10.9% - India


2. What is your age?

31.3% - 18 years old

23.7% - 17 years old

20% - 16 years old


3. What grade are you currently in?

41.3% - 12 (Senior)

18.7% - 11 (Junior)

17.5% - 10 (Sophomore); Prefer not to say


4. What method of schooling are you currently pursuing?

72.5% - Conventional schooling

12.5% - Schooling through organisations

3.7% - None


5. How have you been impacted by cancer?

36.3% - Internal family member has cancer

33.8% - External family member has cancer

16.3% - Cancer survivor


6. How long ago were you/your loved one diagnosed?

43.8% - More than 2 years ago

11.2% - 6-9 months ago

8.7% - 21-24 months ago


7. Overall, how has cancer affected your education?

43.7% - Somewhat negatively

26.3% - Negatively

20% - No impact


8. In what areas has the diagnosis affected your education?

50% - Concentration, attention span, and memory 36.3% - Attendance 35% - Ability to finish tasks on time or to do assignments with many steps; Meeting homework deadlines


9. How nervous were you about returning to school after the diagnosis of yourself/your loved one?

26.9% - 4 21.8% - 2 20.5% - 3


10. What were your concerns about rejoining?

52.5% - Being unable to deal with the workload 31.3% - Not understanding what has been taught till now 25% - Loss of peer support


11. How smooth was your integration back into school?

35.1% - 3

21.6% - 2; 4

16.2% - 1


12. How supportive have the following been during the treatment?


13. Which of the following solutions has your school implemented/should implement?


Interpretation

Demographics

  • The top 3 countries respectively where our respondents reside are the United States, UK and India.

  • The majority of the respondents are 18 years old and are in the 12th grade.

  • Conventional schooling is the most common method of schooling amongst our respondents.


Impact of Cancer

  • The majority of the respondents have an internal family member with cancer.

  • Most of the diagnoses date to more than 2 years ago.


Impact on Education

  • Overall, cancer has affected their education somewhat negatively.

  • The main areas impacted were:

  1. Concentration, attention span, and memory

  2. Attendance

  3. Ability to finish tasks on time or to do assignments with many steps

  4. Meeting homework deadlines

  • Some other ways, as given by the respondents were:

  1. “Understanding on cancer”

  2. “Ability to attend class in person”

  3. “Blanking out on tests, not being able to focus”

  4. “Anxiety & getting overwhelmed leads to doing nothing & shutting school out”


Emotional Well-Being and Support

  • Most respondents were somewhat not nervous to return to school after the diagnosis.

  • The main concerns about rejoining included:

  1. Being unable to deal with the workload

  2. Not understanding what has been taught till now

  3. Loss of peer support

  • Some other concerns, as given by the respondents were:

  1. “People talking about me because I just disappeared and they didn’t know why and suddenly I was back again.”

  2. “I am a shy person and everyone at school knew that my brother was undergoing cancer treatment and people were nice but I hated all the extra attention”

  3. “Being known as ‘the cancer kid’”

  • The majority of the respondents had neutral experiences for integration back into school.

  • Healthcare professionals were the most supportive during treatment, followed by teachers and peers.

  • The school was the least supportive during the treatment, followed by teachers.

  • Availability of school counsellors was implemented the most, followed by extended deadlines, and having a peer help them out.

  • Reduced assignments should be implemented the most, followed by extended deadlines and reduced attendance requirements.

  • Extra classes are the least required solutions, followed by modified test requirements, reduced assignments and having a peer help them out.


Summary

Cancer has had a somewhat negative impact on the education of adolescents, particularly those aged 18. With support given primarily by healthcare professionals, teachers and peers, the main areas affected y the diagnosis was to do with lack of time and/or energy to attend classes and complete assignments on time and focus on school work and tasks.


Solutions that were implemented the most include making a school counsellor available for help, extending deadlines and having a peer help them out, though some disagree with the requirement for the last solution. The most required solution is to reduce the number of assignments and extend deadlines.


Sources and References



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