Why we are here
Improving the lives of young people with cancer.
Teenage Cancer Trust grew out of the dedication and passion of a group of women who discovered the plight of teenagers with cancer by chance.
Whilst fundraising for a children's intensive care heart unit at Guy's Hospital, London, they met a mother whose son developed cancer at 13. He was treated at times in a childrens ward or alongside old people - making the experience far worse for him. The women met the young man’s consultant who explained that not only did young people have to face the trauma of cancer, its treatment, and isolation from their peers at a very sensitive stage of life, but that they also tended to get rare cancers.
The women went on to raise funds to build the very first Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Middlesex Hospital in London in 1990.
Young people and cancer
There’s never a good time to get cancer, but for a teenager the timing seems particularly cruel.
Young people can get some of the most rare and aggressive forms of cancer. Their rapidly growing bodies work against them, enabling the cancer to grow faster. The emotional upheaval of adolescence can make a cancer diagnosis even harder to cope with.
Every day in the UK, six young people will have to face that diagnosis. This is a rising figure and there are already more young people than children with the disease. Yet because only 0.5% of all cancers occur in teenagers and young adults, they are often misdiagnosed initially. This decreases their chances of survival and can mean they are excluded from clinical trials.
Until the age of 16 a teenager is likely to be treated in a paediatric ward alongside children. After turning 16, the same teenager would end up in an adult ward with elderly patients. One minute life’s about music, clothes, computer games, college and hanging out with mates. The next minute life is on hold and they’re in a hospital ward with no-one their age and feeling very isolated.
It is important for young people’s physical health and psychological well-being that they be treated in a specialist facility that is built to meet their needs. It is also critical for their emotional well-being that they are treated in a comfortable environment where they have the opportunity to meet young people their age who they can relate to.
Founder member and Chairman of Teenage Cancer Trust until June 2010, Dr Whiteson OBE, together with his wife, Myrna Whiteson MBE, was honoured by the board of Trustees and became an Honorary Life President of the charity. Dr Whiteson has been in private medical practice in London's West End since 1971 and is responsible for the health and wellbeing of the directors and employees of a number of major public companies.
He has been a Medical Adviser to a number of Life Insurance companies and has addressed various international fora on medical insurance issues. In 1962 he joined the British Boxing Board of Control as a Medical Adviser and became their Chief Medical Officer in 1970, soon after becoming Chairman of the Medical Committee of the World Boxing Council and the European Boxing Union. He is well known for his contributions to the media on the medical aspects of contact sports and on other medical issues.
He was a member of the Government Review Body for Sport for People with Disabilities and in 1990 became President of the British Paralympic Association. In 2004, due to work pressures he stepped down and is now Honorary Vice President. In 1992 he was awarded an OBE for services to sport and charity.
As a former Trustee, his main role within Teenage Cancer Trust was fundraising and awareness. Together with Roger Daltrey of The Who, he was responsible for the annual concerts held at the Royal Albert Hall. He has also run marathons for Teenage Cancer Trust and trekked with his wife, Myrna, throughout the world to raise funds. He was highly active in recruiting supporters and sponsors for the charity from major industries and organisations.
Myrna Whiteson has always worked with young people. Initially a teacher and school counsellor, for 30 years she was a magistrate in inner London and spent much of that time dealing with young offenders and with Family Courts. She served as Chairman of West Central Division of Inner London Courts. As well as fundraising for the charity, Myrna has played a pivotal role in developing Teenage Cancer Trust units throughout the UK.
She has done much to promote awareness of the needs of young people with cancer in the UK and abroad. She supports the Teenage Cancer Trust Multidisciplinary Forum and contributes to the organisation of 'Find Your Sense of Tumour', a Teenage Cancer Trust sponsored conference for young cancer patients. Myrna has been a driving force in developing Teenage Cancer Trust's International Conferences on Cancer and the Adolescent. She has contributed to 'The Teenage Cancer Trust - advocating a model for teenage cancer services' to the European Journal of Cancer and to other publications, and addresses many audiences both within the UK and abroad, about the issues surrounding cancer and young people.
Myrna has also highlighted the needs of young cancer patients with MPs, government bodies, radio and television, and has represented teenagers with cancer on the Government Task Force - Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in the NHS. She has also contributed to the charity by participating in 12 treks worldwide. In 2002 she was awarded an MBE for services to Teenage Cancer Trust.
Please set up a regular gift today
Teenage Cancer Trust exists to improve the quality of life and chances of survival for young people with cancer. We rely completely on donations from people like you to fund our vital work.
A regular gift of just £5 a month will help us provide the best possible care and support for young people with cancer.