Early days

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 Ewings 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:

A timeline of our work

1989

  • Dr Adrian Whiteson OBE and Myrna Whiteson MBE and volunteers, begin fundraising for the first Teenage Cancer Trust unit, to create a specialist centre of care for teenagers and young adults facing cancer

1990

  • The unit opens at the Middlesex Hospital, London

1994

1995

  • Teenage Cancer Trust’s education programme begins to teach young students about cancer, its signs and treatments as well as giving healthy lifestyle tips. Today the education team visits 100s of schools a year and produces resources for teachers and youth workers to spread awareness of cancer

1996

1997

  • Unit opens at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle

1998

2000

  • Unit opens at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham 
  • We hold our first show at the Royal Albert Hall called “The Who and Friends”. The band are joined onstage by artists including Noel Gallagher, Bryan Adams and Paul Weller, setting in motion one of the biggest annual events in the music and comedy calendar.

2001

  • We hold the first Find Your Sense of Tumour weekend conference for young people with cancer. Now in its 14th year, the event provides a mix of inspirational presentations, therapies and social activities, and can often be the first time a young cancer patient meets other young people going through the same thing.

2003

2004

2005

  • Unit opens at University College Hospital, London 
  • The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) publish the Children’s and Young People’s Improving Outcomes Guidance (CYPIOG) endorsing Teenage Cancer Trust’s philosophy of care as best practice

2006

  • Teenage Cancer Trust helps establish the National Cancer Research Institute Teenage and Young Adult Clinical Studies Development Group

2007

2008

  • New unit opens at St James’s University Hospital, Leeds 

  • The first Teenage Cancer Trust nurse consultant is appointed. Our nurses are teenage cancer experts, and their job is to make sure young people receive the highest quality of care possible when they’re facing cancer. 

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

  • Stephen Sutton, a terminally ill patient treated at our units in Birmingham, raises a phenomenal £5 million for Teenage Cancer Trust, the most an individual has ever raised for the charity. Sadly Stephen dies in May 2014, but leaves behind an incredible legacy through his positivity, determination and courage.
  • Unit opens at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre