Two young people sat at table on Teenage Cancer Trust unit

Our story and history

Since 1990, we’ve learnt a lot about what it’s like to be a young person with cancer and the unique emotional, physical and practical needs that come with a diagnosis.

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We have a fantastic team of staff and volunteers who are inspired daily by the amazing young people who are treated on our units and via our outreach services. Young people help us decide the best way to offer cancer services and are at the heart of everything we do.

Our history

Teenage Cancer Trust grew out of the dedication and passion of a group of women, which included life president and founder Myrna Whiteson MBE, who fundraised for a children’s intensive care heart unit at Guy’s Hospital in 1989.

The group met a mother whose 13 year old son had cancer and was being treated both in a children’s ward and alongside older people in an adult oncology ward. Not only was he facing the trauma of cancer and cancer treatment, but he was isolated from other young people going through the same thing.

They set out to provide a ‘teenage environment’ to help young people with cancer and raised the £330,000 needed to fund it. On 22 November 1990, Teenage Cancer Trust’s first specialist cancer unit at the Middlesex Hospital in London was officially opened by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. At that point, the group imagined their work was done.

Myrna said:

“We never dreamed back then in the early 90s that Teenage Cancer Trust would become what it is today. We had no great vision of the future at that stage, but just wanted to do something that would make things better for young people experiencing the great burden of cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

Teenage Cancer Trust has grown to become a global leader in the field of young cancer care, our pioneering model admired the world over. The lives of thousands of young people have been transformed by specialist care and support by highly experienced experts.

“The Teenage Cancer Trust unit in Sheffield felt really welcoming and this made such a difference; the nurses were great and made me feel at home and I met other people who were going through what I was experiencing.”

- Julia, diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma

As well as our network of care and support services in hospital units and via hospitals and homes across the UK, our work has grown to include:

  • Find Your Sense of Tumour, an annual conference for young people with cancer
  • The biennial International Conference on Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Medicine for teenage and young adult cancer specialists
  • a funding programme for research and the further education of health professionals.

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