Wednesday 1st July 2020
- Princesses urge people not to forget challenges faced by young people with cancer as lockdown eases
- Young people, including one who was receiving chemotherapy at the time, share moving details of coping with cancer during pandemic
- Princess Eugenie touched by story of young person scarred by cancer treatment who found photo of her showing scar in wedding dress inspirational
TRH Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are helping to shine a light on the huge challenges faced by young people with cancer, and how these have been intensified as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Princesses are honorary patrons of Teenage Cancer Trust, and last week took part in a Zoom discussion with six young people from across the North West who are helped by the charity’s specialist nurses and youth support co-ordinators based at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.
Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie heard directly from the young people how advice on shielding, necessary appointment delays and loved ones not being able to visit them in hospital, due to the pandemic, has impacted their mental and overall wellbeing – and how Teenage Cancer Trust is helping them through the crisis.
The Princesses spoke with Caitlin Wilde, 18, from Droylsden, Callum Marsh, 20, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Darcy Shaw, 21, from Salford, Lakita Neille, 21, from Manchester, Jack Fielding, 25, from Bolton and Kathryn Rodwell, 21, from Mold in North Wales.
Speaking to the Princesses on the call about how life has changed due to the pandemic, Kathryn Rodwell, who is undergoing treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma, explained some of the challenges facing her and her family.
Kathryn comments: “I’ve been receiving treatment for relapsed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I relapsed just before Covid started, so I’ve been treated pre and post Covid. It’s been completely different this time. It’s affected pretty much everything…I’ve had treatment pushed back, because I’m going to be receiving a stem cell transplant. My mum isn’t allowed into hospital with me now, and we’re very close. Now I have to go in on my own. She drives me into The Christie in Manchester, an hour from where we live. Then sits in the car park waiting for texts from me to tell her how I’m doing.”
Callum Marsh, who took part in the Zoom call from his room at The Christie while receiving chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, said:
“During the pandemic I’ve spent times on the ward for over a week and I’ve had to spend much of that on my own, as the staff have to minimise their contact with me to reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus. So, you’re left alone with your thoughts, at quite a scary time in your life.”
Lakita Neille, who has completed treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma but is still shielding, said:
“When you have cancer you are constantly waiting, waiting for diagnosis, waiting for treatment, waiting for results, waiting it all to end so life can get back to normal. Then when it’s all over, to be told you have to shield for an amount of time and can’t see the people you love and want around you again, that’s another chunk of time when you can’t do the things you’ve been waiting to do, it’s really difficult.”
The Princesses then heard how the Teenage Cancer Trust youth support co-ordinators, who work within the Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) service at The Christie hospital in Manchester, have had to adapt and move 100% of the support they provide online.
The young people spoke about the difference Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Co-ordinator Steve Harcourt has made to them by organising a host of online social events that bring them all together and help them keep them occupied and feel less isolated, for example online bingo and quizzes, and a ‘lads night in’.
Speaking with the princesses, Caitlin Wilde, who has finished treatment but has ongoing complications related to a previous stem cell transplant: “Steve’s been putting on online bingo and all sorts and to begin with I thought, I don’t want to do it, I thought it would be a bit cringe! But taking part has been a lot of fun.”
Jack Fielding added: “You actively look forward to these events as well. For me they’ve really been a lifeline.”
The online events are running alongside the intensive work that the Teenage Cancer Trust team do all year round to support young people emotionally. This includes being there to talk through people’s problems and facilitating body image workshops for those who struggle to cope with changes to their appearance caused by cancer treatment.
Darcy Shaw, 21, from Salford, was diagnosed with skin cancer in February this year and has scars on her neck and chest from surgery. She told Princess Eugenie how body image workshops – plus seeing a photo of Eugenie in her wedding dress with her scar visible – had boosted her confidence.
“I’ve always struggled with my body image, way before I got diagnosed with cancer, and anxiety and mental health issues. I was quite recently diagnosed in February, and now have a scar on my neck and chest from surgery. And I thought to myself, well everything is going to plummet.
“But actually, the complete opposite has happened, and I put that entirely down to all the support I’ve had through the lockdown. I’ve attended body image workshops with Teenage Cancer Trust, and it’s boosted my confidence, I can’t believe it. I blog a lot and I’m on Instagram and I actually post more photos of myself now, showing my scars, and actually feel better about myself.”
Responding to Darcy, HRH Princess Eugenie put her hands in the air and said: “Woo - I love hearing that Darcy. I have a big old scar down my back and I’m proud to show it off.”
To which Darcy replied: “I saw pictures of you in your wedding dress and the scar, and it inspired me that you were so open about it and wanted to have it on show.”
TRH Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie have been involved with Teenage Cancer Trust all their lives. Their mother Sarah, Duchess of York is a long-standing supporter of the charity and opened its first dedicated facility for young people with cancer in 1990.
HRH Princess Beatrice said:
“We’ve grown up with Teenage Cancer Trust, we’ve been part of this family our entire lives, and it was so amazing to speak with these young people and some of the incredible team who are supporting them through this crisis.
“They have been through so much already, and as we start to come out of lockdown, many young people will remain in very difficult situations, often separated from friends and family, at home or in hospital.
“We must not forget about them, and charities like Teenage Cancer Trust who are working so hard to help them cope.”
HRH Princess Eugenie said:
“To hear from these young people was an honour and a privilege, and to hear how Teenage Cancer Trust has been adapting to support them online during this crisis is truly inspiring.
“This charity and the young people that it works with have created such a wonderful community.
“We loved hearing all about the fun activities young people have been doing over the past few months and hope to take part an online bingo session with them in the future!”
Also taking part in the Zoom call from Teenage Cancer Trust were Steve Harcourt, Youth Support Co-ordinator at The Christie, Dave Wright, Lead Nurse at The Christie, Myrna Whiteson, the charity’s founder, and Kate Collins, Chief Executive.
Kate Collins said: “Their Royal Highnesses Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are heartfelt and remarkable supporters of Teenage Cancer Trust – and young people with cancer. Their wholehearted commitment to supporting the vital work of charity makes the world of difference, and we feel honoured and deeply grateful that they are very much part of the Teenage Cancer Trust family.
“I can’t thank the young people who shared their experiences enough. Sadly, for them and others, this isn’t their first experience of shielding and the isolation this can bring. Young people facing cancer often feel isolated from their friends and peers, who are moving on with their lives. Put a global pandemic on top of that, and it is essential that Teenage Cancer Trust is able to work even harder to make sure young people don’t face cancer alone.
“Steve and Dave are just two of the specialist, expert Teenage Cancer Trust team in the NHS supporting young people with cancer during the pandemic. We had to completely transform our services overnight, with our frontline staff showing enthusiasm, creativity and dedication to keep supporting young people with cancer, wherever they are.”
Later this month TRH Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie will be hosting the Teenage Cancer Trust Awards 2020 – a virtual awards ceremony celebrating the incredible achievements of young people with cancer, and those who support them.
For more information about Teenage Cancer Trust visit www.teenagecancertrust.org
For a video of the Zoom conversation, photos, video or to set up an interview, please contact:
Claire Monger, Media and PR Manager, on 07741 904162 or email Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruwani Purcell, Deputy Director of Communications on 07958 222580 or email Ruwani.email@example.com
For out of hours media enquiries, please contact the Duty Press Officer on 0757 225 1265.
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
About The Christie
The Christie is the largest single site cancer centre in Europe treating more than 44,000 patients a year. It is the largest radiotherapy provider in the NHS and in Europe. The Christie delivers chemotherapy treatment through the largest chemotherapy unit in the UK, as well as via 12 other sites, a mobile chemotherapy unit and in patients’ homes. The Christie is a specialist tertiary surgical centre concentrating on rare cancers, specialist procedures and multidisciplinary cancer surgery. An international leader in research and development, The Christie has around 650 clinical studies ongoing at any one time. Visit www.christie.nhs.uk to find out more or find us on social media @TheChristieNHS.
The Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) service at The Christie
The Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) service at The Christie is provided in a dedicated purpose built £12m unit built in 2014, with £10m provided by The Christie charity. The centre provides care and treatment for 16-24 year olds who are diagnosed with cancer.
Inpatient care is provided in 10 TYA designated beds with each inpatient having their own private en suite room. Day patient care is provided through three treatment chairs and two beds in Rob’s Day Unit for patients who have day case chemotherapy, need blood or platelets or who are having radiotherapy.
Young people are encouraged to use the two social hubs in the TYA to play pool, listen to music, take part in workshops and other activities and events. They also have access to a dedicated gym, a music room and a complementary therapy room.
Young people treated at The Christie will have the support of a multi-disciplinary team including specialist TYA nurses, social workers and youth workers and physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Each young person is given a ‘key worker’ - a senior nurse who coordinates care over the treatment pathway.