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- CanTeen is a national peer support organisation. CanTeen
provides a range of support, recreational and educational
programs that aim to bring young people living with cancer
together in an environment where they can gain support,
share their experiences, learn from others who have 'been
there, done that' and have some fun.
- CanTeen was founded in Sydney in 1985 by six teenage cancer
patients and a group of health professionals. CanTeen now
operates nationally and similar organisations have since
been formed in New Zealand, Ireland and Canada.
- Members of CanTeen are young people (12 – 24 years
of age) living with cancer, including patient's siblings,
bereaved siblings, offspring and bereaved offspring.
- CanTeen's mission is to support, develop and empower young
people living with cancer.
- There are nearly 2000 CanTeen members throughout Australia.
- CanTeen is committed to young people participating in
its management. Members comprise a majority on the national
board of directors and each division committee.
- CanTeen is responsible for raising $2 million dollars
each year to operate its programs. CanTeen receives minimal
local government funding.
- CanTeen is a registered charity and donations of $2 or
more are tax deductible.
How We Started
CanTeen is based on the philosophy that no young
person should go through their cancer experience alone.
In the beginning
CanTeen was born in 1985 at a time when a number of health
professionals from the Sydney Children’s Hospital
recognised that the health system was not meeting the
unique support needs of adolescents with cancer –
and their siblings. These health professionals - oncologist
Les White, psychiatrist Russell White, social workers
Ralph Hampson and Vivien Hart, and PhD student Michael
Carr-Gregg - felt that more needed to be done.
The very first camp was organised in early 1985 with
the aim of allowing young people with cancer - and their
brothers and sisters - to get away from their daily experience
of cancer, have some fun, build relationships and share
their experiences with each other. This camp was organised
with the help of Julie Dunsmore, a psychologist from Sydney's
Royal North Shore Hospital.
At the same time, Michael Carr-Gregg and six cancer patients
– Les Beath, Peter De Pasquale, Roger Morton, Carol
Quinlan, Joanne Walsh and Claire Williams – formed
a discussion group as part of Michael’s PhD study
into the psychological impact of cancer on adolescents.
It was from within this group that the idea for the formation
of a new organisation came, and in a "eureka"
moment Michael Carr-Greg came up with the name CanTeen
– a play on cancer and teenager. Michael asked the
renowned artist Ken Done (also a cancer survivor) to design
a bright and positive logo. CanTeen was well and truly
From its humble beginnings in Randwick, Sydney, CanTeen
developed into the Australian Organisation for Young People
Living with Cancer.
From then til now
Today, CanTeen provides peer support services for 12
to 24 year-olds across three Membership categories; Patient
Members are young people who have or have had cancer,
Sibling Members have a brother or sister who has or has
had cancer, and Offspring Members have a mother, father
or primary carer who has or has had cancer.
Each year CanTeen delivers in excess of 80 camps and hundreds
of other programs and activities, across eight Divisions around
Australia. Like the very first camp, today’s camps are
between two and five days long. They contain a mixture of
psychological support and development and social activities,
and range from general (Divisional) camps for all Members
to camps focused on specific needs, like “Bereaved”,
“Healthy Living”, “Good Grief” and
All of CanTeen’s camps, as well as the more informal
Recreation Days and Cafe Crawls, are aimed at providing
Members with a place where they can escape the adult-dominated
world of cancer hospitals and the routine of cancer treatments.
To our Members, CanTeen is a place where young people can
simply be young people.