Friday 27th November 2020
Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Coordinator Hannah Lind has been using the arts to bring the 16 to 24-year-olds that she supports together, keeping them connected with her, and with each other throughout the pandemic.
Young people with cancer are feeling more isolated than ever before and Hannah, who supports teenagers and young adults at Teenage Cancer Trust’s unit at the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, has come up with creative ways to stay in touch - the gourmet bean challenge, the covid ditty and #quarantscenes challenge, art classes and heart-warming poetry experiences.
Hannah Lind, Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinator at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, said:
“Coronavirus has been a challenging time for everyone but for young people with cancer, it has been particularly tough.
“These sessions are a lot of fun but behind that, they play an important role. They keep peer-to-peer support going at a time when all face-to-face group support can’t. It’s a way of connecting young people whilst also being able to spot, from the side-lines, whether they are showing any signs of needing additional support.
“Coronavirus has presented many challenges, but some creative and engaging support sessions have been born as a result. Even after the pandemic, I am sure they will remain in place allowing us to reach more and more young people with cancer.”
Portrait of Youth Support Coordinator Hannah created by young person Chrissy
Liveta, (22) who was diagnosed with breast cancer, worked with other young cancer patients, Teenage Cancer Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust’s Poet in Residence, Beth Calverley to create the poem ‘The Toughest Shield.’ She said: “Living through a pandemic whilst going through cancer as well is a challenging thing to do to say the least.
“The poem that Beth got us involved in is beautiful and speaks the truth for everyone that is going through illness during the pandemic. The description that this is the toughest shield is true. It is. The poem beautifully wraps up the emotions we are going through throughout this. The poem was really appreciated by many of us in the young people’s cancer community. It really made me feel much better and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone.”
Beth reciting The Toughest Shield
Bristol’s Teenage Cancer Trust unit brings young people aged between 16 and 24 together, to be treated by teenage and young adult cancer experts in a bright and welcoming space designed just for them.
During the first peak of the pandemic, Bristol’s Teenage Cancer Trust unit was repurposed to provide care for people of all ages with cancer. The second wave continues to apply pressure so young people’s treatment continues to be delivered elsewhere on site and many clinics take place virtually. The unit’s social areas have remained closed throughout the pandemic so strict social distancing rules enforced across the hospital site, can be adhered to.
Claire Lewis-Norman, Teenage and Young Adult Specialist Nurse at Bristol’s Teenage Cancer Trust unit, said:
“Throughout the pandemic, Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Co-ordinators like Hannah have led the way when it comes to digitalising peer-to-peer support. It has increased patient engagement and enabled them to continue getting young people through some of the toughest time of their lives.
“Coronavirus is unpredictable, but Hannah provides much needed support and stability for the teenagers and young adults she cares for and I can’t thank her enough for it.”
Teenage Cancer Trust pioneered teenage and young adult cancer care, creating a network of 28 specialist units, funding more than 100 dedicated nurse and youth support coordinator posts, and contributing over £60m to the NHS in its 30-year lifespan.
Liveta, who is from Somerset, said: “Teenage Cancer Trust was a big part of my life throughout treatment and even now I’m still receiving support, advice and help – I’m receiving distractions and I am super grateful for what they do. They truly help us cancer patients so much. From day 1 I had all the help and advice I needed. I had someone I could call at any time. It’s a really lovely community that has been built in Bristol. It is absolutely amazing.”
Chloe taking part in the #quarantscene challenge
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the charity, changing the face of its services overnight, cancelling all group face-to-face fundraising events and leading to a sharp reduction in income at exactly the time when young people with cancer are feeling more vulnerable than ever.
Cancer doesn’t stop for anything and neither will Teenage Cancer Trust’s unstoppable nurses and Youth Support Co-ordinators. Help protect Teenage Cancer Trust’s frontline services by donating today: www.teenagecancertrust.org/help
Notes to editors
- Beth Calverley is part of UHBW Arts and Culture Programme #HospitalArts and also hosts workshops for young people with cancer being supported by Teenage Cancer Trust.
- Beth co-created ‘The Toughest Shield’ in response to words and feelings shared with her by the young people Hannah supports, in answer to some questions she sent. Beth then recorded the poem and sent it to them as a video.
About Teenage Cancer Trust
- Cancer isn’t stopping for Coronavirus and neither is Teenage Cancer Trust. The charity has launched an urgent fundraising appeal to raise £5 million to maintain its frontline services. Donate today: www.teenagecancertrust.org/donate
- Every day, seven young people in the UK aged 13 to 24 hear the words "you have cancer".
- Teenage Cancer Trust puts young people in the best possible place, physically, mentally and emotionally, for their cancer treatment and beyond.
- We do it through our expert nurses, support teams, and hospital units. And we're the only UK charity dedicated to providing this specialised nursing care and support.
- Teenage Cancer Trust is a registered charity: 1062559 (England & Wales), SC039757 (Scotland).