Why your support is so important
Every day, seven young people aged 13-24 hear the words “you have cancer”.
Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to providing the specialised nursing care and support they need to get through it.
Cancer doesn’t just devastate a young person’s health. It threatens to take away everything they care about – their identity, their independence, and their dreams.
We fund specialist nurses, youth support teams and hospital units within the NHS to provide the very best care and support during treatment and beyond, making sure cancer doesn’t stop young people living their lives.
Together, we can reach every young person facing cancer.
Our 28 Teenage Cancer Trust wards (known as ‘units’) in NHS hospitals across the UK are the only nationwide network of specialist treatment centres supporting young people with cancer.
Our units don’t feel like hospital. Designed together with young people themselves, they’re spaces where young people facing cancer can feel at home, meet others their age, welcome family and friends, and get the very best care from a dedicated team of specialist nurses and youth support workers.
Our units are designed to foster as much of a sense of normality, familiarity and fun as possible, providing some relief from the often gruelling experience of cancer treatment. Bedrooms are equipped with comfy soft furnishings, bespoke furniture, mood lighting, TV and gaming. Family and friends are welcomed and supported, with social areas and shared facilities where they can get to know each other in a spirit of mutual support.
Communal chillout areas, complete with jukebox, pool table and games consoles, allow young people to socialise and hang out like they would at home. These spaces are often where the magic happens – an environment where young people can be who they are, nurture their wellbeing and foster a sense of connection and belonging.
You might walk into a unit and find a game of pool going on, someone gaming with friends, or a photography workshop in full swing. This gives young people the chance to meet and make friends with others their own age who are going through cancer, which is known to improve mental health and support long term recovery.
It’s this, as much as the clinical care they receive, that really gets young people through cancer.
The ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic has made maintaining therapeutic and social activities in our units much more difficult, as we work to strike a balance between meeting young people’s needs and keeping them safe. Yet while opportunities for interaction may be more limited, they’re more important to young people than ever, including the chance to come together online.
Teenage Cancer Trust Nurses are specially trained in how cancer affects teenagers and young adults. As well as providing world-class medical care, they understand how to support young people with the impact of cancer on their emotions, friendships, studies, work and relationships.
With smaller caseloads than typical nurses, our nurses have the time to get to know each individual as a person, not a patient. They’re a consistent, reassuring, go-to person for any questions or worries a young person or their family might have, from the point they’re diagnosed, throughout treatment, and afterwards as they adjust to life beyond cancer.
Our nurses act as unflagging advocates for young people, championing their needs in an NHS under enormous strain. When a young person is facing a new and confusing world of hospital appointments, scans and check-ups, their Teenage Cancer Trust nurse is by their side to explain unfamiliar medical terms, help them navigate treatment, and feel more in control.
As well as being experts in cancer care, our nurses are specially trained to recognise and help with the early signs of deteriorating mental health among young people facing cancer. Often, a nurse can help de-escalate emerging mental health issues before more serious intervention is necessary, but they can also help to ensure young people get access to specialist psychological support when it’s needed.
Our youth support workers:
Youth Support Coordinators are specialist youth workers operating alongside our nursing teams to help young people deal with the emotional and practical impact of cancer. Because their role is non-medical, they’re 100% focused on each young person as an individual, not on their diagnosis.
Our Youth Support Coordinators play a vital role in breaking down the sense of isolation and helping young people with cancer to maintain their mental health and wellbeing. They’re there to support young people with anything cancer throws at them, from dealing with hair loss or changes to how they look, to returning to work or study and adjusting to life after cancer.
Life doesn’t have to come to a standstill just because you have cancer. Our Youth Support Coordinators support young people to have new experiences, meet new people, grow, learn, and have fun. They run group activities and discussions – online or in person when possible – that encourage young people to open up, share their experiences of cancer with each other, and realise they’re not alone. They also bring young people together to support each other, making sure our units are a relaxed and welcoming place where they can bond over TV, games or pizza.
Last year our Youth Support Coordinators engaged more than 2,200 young people, organising and facilitating 665 group sessions in hospitals, and more than 550 group activities in the community.
By supporting the Star Boot Sale you are helping us to continue funding all of these world class services around the United Kingdom.