About Us

Today, seven teenagers in the UK will hear the words ‘you have cancer’. Seven more will hear them tomorrow and seven more the day after that.

At a time of fear, isolation and loneliness, we bring 13-24 year olds who have been diagnosed with cancer, together.

Through workshops, activity days and residential stays, Teens Unite provides the ongoing social, emotional and physical support needed by these young people, which medical experts can’t.

We support young people from diagnosis, through treatment, recovery and into remission. We understand that cancer doesn’t stop when treatment stops; the effects of a cancer diagnosis can be long-lasting and often life changing.

The young people we support often say that being classified as ‘in remission’, is almost as daunting as being diagnosed. As the focus on becoming fit, well and ‘cancer free’ is replaced by the question ‘what next?’, it is difficult to simply return to life before cancer, but Teens Unite puts the stepping stones in place to rebuild a life beyond illness.

We enable young people, whose lives have been impacted by a cancer diagnosis, to socialise with others their age in a similar situation, so they can support and encourage each other, share their hopes, fears and experiences and live the fullest life possible.

We understand that cancer doesn’t just effect the person diagnosed, but those closest to them, which is why we offer support to family members too. Our siblings days, along with our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations, provide opportunities to meet other families in a similar situation.

Our Story

Founders of Teens Unite, Debbie Pezzani and Karen Millen OBE, share a passion for supporting young people diagnosed with cancer after volunteering their time in hospital wards and spending hours with teenage cancer patients. They held their hands through treatment, recovery and hospital appointments and shared the highs and lows with those closest to them. 

Debbie and Karen witnessed cancer steal the confidence, self-esteem, friendships and hope of these young people and saw the illness deprive them of the best years of their life.

Whilst volunteering, they met a young man named Chris. He was the sole carer for his two younger brothers and was incredibly unwell at the time. He was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 19 and had undergone a stem cell transplant. Debbie supported Chris through his treatment and appointments; helping him with transport, taking care of his family and being a hand to hold.

The news that followed made Chris’s battle even harder to cope with; he received news that his younger brother, Carl, had been diagnosed with the same type of cancer and he sadly passed away in Debbie’s arms a year after his diagnosis. On this day, Chris said to Debbie: “Not only have I lost my brother, but I have lost my cancer friend.” Carl was the only person in Chris’s life who really understood what he was going through.  

They realised that outside of medical staff treating the illness, there was little support available to these young people who were absent from school, college or university to undergo treatment and they were rapidly becoming isolated and alone with little hope or aspiration for the future.

Seven teenagers hear the words ‘you have cancer’ every day in the UK. As a result of cancer treatment in young people, 95% experience a negative impact on their physical ability, 90% experience anxiety, 83% experience loneliness and 70% experience depression.

In 2007, Teens Unite was born after Debbie and Karen vowed to unite these young people and help them to rebuild their lives from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond, so that they don't have to face their battle alone. Through workshops and activities, the charity unites those aged 13-24, so they can make new friends, rebuild their confidence and self-esteem, learn new skills and live a life outside of illness.

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