Teen cancer survivor says diagnosis 'changed relationships with friends'

  • Watch Victoria Davies' report here.

A cancer survivor from Weymouth has told ITV News about the psychological damage inflicted upon him as a result of some of his friends effectively abandoning him during his treatment.

Rian Harvey said that he was hit very hard by how some of his friends dealt with his diagnosis when he first told them he had cancer aged just 14.

The now 21-year-old is backing a campaign by the Teenage Cancer Trust that is looking to improve the way young people deal with the life-changing revelation.

Rian Harvey with one of his friends during treatment.

"Being a teenager and going through it had a massive impact on me," he explained.

"I should have been going to house parties and having a good time with my friends but i had to substitute that time with hospital time.

After being treated for leukaemia for six months Rian was in recovery, but when he relapsed 12 months later he needed a life-saving stem cell transplant.

While he struggled to come to terms with his own new diagnosis, he also had to come to terms with how his relationships changed.

Rian was treated for leukaemia and then relapsed just 12 months in to his recovery at the age of 15.

"The last thing you want as a teenager being diagnosed with cancer is a feeling of being isolated from your friends," Rian continued.

"You feel isolated enough anyway because of the diagnosis you have had, you need them to come in there and give you something to look forward to."

New research from the trust revealed that during cancer treatment 75% of young people found that their friendships changed dramatically with more than a third finding their friends stopping all contact.

Ruwani Purcell from the Teenage Cancer Trust said that friends may not know how to respond in that situation.

"For most people they felt that it was because their friends didn't know what to say or what to do," Ruwani Purcell from the Teenage Cancer Trust said.

"Their friends felt quite awkward and a bit unsure about how to get in touch. They weren't sure how to involve them in social gatherings."

Now the trust has launched a campaign with advice from cancer sufferers abut how friends can play a key role in the road to recovery.