Tuesday 14th July 2015

Teenage Cancer Trust ambassador Jack, who helped officially open the unit a year ago, joined current and former patients to cut the birthday cake and officially start the party. Jack and the patients also took part in a DJ workshop, playing classic birthday party tunes throughout the afternoon. Big thanks to our new partners, Domino's, who provided pizza for the party!

Since the £2.5million unit opened last year, over 100 young people aged 16 to 24 from Bristol, Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Devon and Cornwall, have received treatment. Named Area 61 by the patients and taking 10 months to build, the state-of-the-art specialist inpatient and outpatient unit offers young people a place to receive treatment where they can feel at home. The unit offers patients the best possible care, support and access to treatment via a team of specialist doctors, nurses and support staff, who are all experts in teenage and young adult cancer care.

In the past year the unit has not only supported young people going through gruelling treatment but enabled patients to take their school, college and university exams, achieving outstanding results, with one patient completing a PHD. The ward has also helped young people take part in clinical trials and other important research and receive palliative care in a place of their choice. Having the opportunity to meet other young people undergoing cancer treatment in the space that is reflective of their needs, has also been hugely important to patients and their families.

Ben, 19, was treated on the unit. He said:

Going through cancer can be a really scary experience, but when you are treated on a Teenage Cancer Trust unit, it can make a huge difference. The unit felt homely, which made staying away from my family a lot easier. My Youth Support Coordinator helped me a lot, making me laugh and keeping my spirits up, whilst the nurses would sit with me to the early hours of the morning chatting if I couldn’t sleep. The unit has everything, from play stations to pool tables and incredible staff that listen and support you throughout your whole experience.

Area 61 has 2 floors, with 1 floor dedicated to in-patients with 5 ensuite bedrooms with sofa beds for family and friends to stay overnight. It has a large social area where young people can play pool, listen to music, play games consoles or watch films. There’s also a kitchen and dining space where meals can be cooked at all times of day and night, as well as a lounge for family members to take a break. The other floor is for day patients, featuring 3 treatment pods, 2 consulting rooms, a procedure room, and a waiting area with cafe.

Jamie Cargill, Teenage Cancer Trust Lead Nurse at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust comments about today’s birthday milestone:

Since we opened the Unit last year we have seen huge improvements in the cancer experience. It is such an honour to lead the team who are making such a difference to young people receiving their treatment in the South West. Alongside the building itself the service continues to evolve and develop, with significant efforts focusing on the wellbeing of young people diagnosed with cancer to improve the care they receive. With continued support from Teenage Cancer Trust we hope to open a new gym/therapies room on the unit later this year that will allow young people to receive a first class well-being support on Area 61.

We rely on donations to fund all of our vital work and a £1,000 a day needs to be raised. We hope that local communities will help raise these important funds and continue to support the unit and the services it offers in the future.