...a Youth Support Co-Ordinator
By giving Teenage Cancer Trust a regular gift you can support the fantastic work of our Youth Support Co-ordinators
I’m Carrie, a Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Co-ordinator. Based on one of our units in Leeds, I’m part of a team that provides tailored care and support for young people with cancer throughout long stays in hospital. I want to let you know how your support is helping transform the lives of young people every day.
When you’re a teenager, your whole world revolves around your friends. Saturday’s party, the latest hook ups and break ups, planning your first holiday without your parents and getting excited about your future. For the young people I work with, just like normal teenagers, life should be all about possibilities. But as soon as they’re told they have cancer, their plans and their life are put on hold.
It might surprise you to hear that what young people feel is the hardest to endure isn’t the months of grueling treatment - it’s the isolation. Imagine being on a hospital ward with no-one your age, away from your friends and family.
Imagine how this would make you feel. How would you be able to cope with this loneliness when you’re dealing with probably the hardest thing you’ve ever had to face in your life? This is where your support can really have an impact.
Gemma’s story is a great example of how this works. Gemma was 15 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which affects the white blood cells and is one of the more common forms of cancer found in teenagers and young adults. When she first came on to the unit, Gemma kept to herself. She found it hard to come out of her room and mix with other patients. So I spent time with her, chatting and getting to know her so gradually Gemma felt able to get involved in some of our group activities.
“Teenage Cancer Trust has offered me great support throughout my treatment, providing me with opportunities to talk to other people in similar situations. The bond you create with others really does feel as close as a family.”
The support we provide young people, thanks to your help, doesn’t end when they finish treatment and leave the unit. It’s important that they know we are still here to support them. For Gemma, this meant coming to the monthly social groups for current and former patients. Last month she popped in and I was so proud to see how well she’s doing. She’s recently come back from a sailing trip with other young patients and is itching to go on an outdoor pursuits trip that I’ve organised. The once shy and timid girl is now a confident young lady bursting with energy to move on with her life.
I received a card the other day from Gemma’s mum who said,
“The doctors cured Gemma’s cancer but I believe that Teenage Cancer Trust saved her life. Thank you for being so caring and making the ward such a nice place to be.”
Photography by Sean Johnson
Carrie talks about her role
Coping with the chaos of cancer
When you’re desperately trying to cope with the chaos of cancer, being able to spend time with people who understand how you feel makes a huge difference. So bringing together young people with cancer is the main focus of my job. This ‘peer support’ is absolutely essential and provides huge benefits for patients.
By encouraging them to socialise with new friends on the unit and their friends from home, I can help reduce their feelings of isolation and boost their confidence.
When your world revolves around cancer, sometimes all you want to do is be yourself. So I organise a wide range of activities from art, music or drama workshops to movie evenings or games days. These activities bring young people together, giving them something other than cancer to focus on for a change.
Please set up a regular gift today
Not all young people with cancer in the UK have access to our units and specialist staff.
I really love my job and our Teenage Cancer Trust unit is amazing. It has everything young people want and more importantly - need. We’re trained to understand the needs of teenagers and help put them at ease so they can find and keep the friends they need at this most desperate time.
What Teenage Cancer Trust provides for young people is absolutely invaluable. I like to think that the clinical teams focus on their bodies and it’s our job to look after their spirit. After three years working on the unit, I still end each day absolutely inspired.
The generosity of people like you has already helped Teenage Cancer Trust fund 19 Youth Support Co-ordinators who are providing expert support to young people right now.
But we need to do more. We want every young person with cancer in the UK to benefit from the support we provide. If you’d like to help make this happen please sign up for a direct debit today.
With your help, young people just like Gemma can face their cancer, comforted and supported by Teenage Cancer Trust.
I truly believe we can challenge cancer together. I hope this letter and Gemma’s story have helped you see how vital Teenage Cancer Trust is to young people with cancer and how your support makes our work possible.
P.S. If a young person from your community is diagnosed with cancer today, we want to make sure they have the very best support available. By giving us a gift, you can help make this happen
How your gift can really make a difference
could pay for a young person with cancer to spend half an hour with one of our teenage cancer experts, to help them feel less scared about what’s ahead.
could help pay for a day out, so that someone like Gemma feels like a young person again, rather than just a cancer patient.
could pay to help young people recover from the stress of what can be painful treatment by having a complementary therapy session.
could help pay for on-ward activities because young people can be on the unit for months at a time.
could enable 30 young people with cancer, to come together for a music therapy workshop arranged each year back stage at our Royal Albert Hall concerts.
could pay for a young person to attend our “Find your Sense of Tumour” conference which brings young people with cancer together, often for the first time.