Our Founders' Circle
No young person should face cancer alone. Together, we can make sure they don’t.
What is the Founders' Circle?
Over thirty years ago, Myrna and Adrian Whiteson had a vision – to live in a world where cancer doesn’t stop young people from living their lives. By creating Teenage Cancer Trust they changed cancer care for young people throughout the UK forever.
The Founders’ Circle is a group of exceptional individuals who are dedicated to continuing this legacy. You can join today to stand by this vision and join a group of inspirational people, committed to making sure that young people receive the age-appropriate support they deserve.
Why I’m part of the Founders’ Circle
“I cannot imagine the horror a teenager must feel when going through this traumatic time, just as life should be opening up for them and they are working out what their future holds.
“Myrna and Adrian Whiteson have worked tirelessly to establish this wonderful charity, which has supported young people and their families going through cancer for over 30 years. They had the vision to establish this special organisation, specifically to cater for the needs of young people with cancer, ensuring they do not have to face their illness alone.
“It is a great honour to be part of this group of people who are dedicated to continuing the remarkable work which has transformed so many people’s lives. I hope that others will join us, to support this fantastically worthwhile charity.”
Why we need your help
Every day seven young people aged 13-24 will receive a cancer diagnosis. Relationships, exams, careers, life plans are all shattered with the words ‘you have cancer’.
A cancer diagnosis can throw young people’s lives into chaos. Young people with cancer need specialised nursing and emotional support. Without it they may face overwhelming fear and isolation, as they deal with this earth-shattering news.
The money raised by the Founders Circle will fund vital services that are crucial to providing age-appropriate care for young people, such as expert nursing and support teams and the running costs of our incredible Teenage Cancer Trust hospital wards.
How you can help
Teenage Cancer Trust Founders, Myrna Whiteson MBE and Dr Adrian Whiteson OBE, changed cancer care for young people. They committed themselves to creating a world in which young people with cancer receive care and support that meets their unique and complex needs. No young person should face cancer alone. Their legacy has made sure they don’t.
Your help is needed more than ever to protect and grow vital services. In pledging your support and joining the Founders’ Circle, you will continue this legacy - to make sure young people receive the age-appropriate care that they desperately need, now and in the future.
Join the Founders’ Circle to continue Myrna and Adrian’s legacy by pledging a gift of £5,000 or more annually. Members receive personal updates about how their support is helping and invitations to exclusive, members only events. Above all, you will make a life-changing difference to young people with cancer.
Email Olivia Heagerty to find out more.
Myrna Whiteson MBE, Teenage Cancer Trust Founder
“The whole idea is that the patient is central. They are a young person first and a cancer patient second.
“They don’t want to be identified as a cancer patient, they’re a young person who happens to have cancer.”
Our Founders' Story
In 1989, Myrna Whiteson MBE 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.
Joining forces with her husband Dr Adrian Whiteson OBE and a group of volunteers, they raised the money needed for the first Teenage Cancer Trust unit to open in 1990 at the Middlesex Hospital, London.
They didn’t know it then, but that hospital unit would be the first of 28, providing specialist care across the UK.
In the decades since, Myrna and Adrian have run 11 London Marathons, organised the first ever Global Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Congress, and of course, spearheaded the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, along with Roger Daltrey of The Who. They have changed the face of cancer care for teenagers and young adults all over the world – forever.
About thirty years ago we were shocked by the lack of appropriate specialist cancer treatment for those who were no longer children – but not yet adults. At that time teenage and young adult cohort were probably the most neglected group of cancer patients, here and around the world.
Young teens were treated as children alongside babies and toddlers. Twenty-year-olds were relegated to adult wards, together with those of their grandparents age. This situation was neither medically nor socially fit to meet the needs of youthful patients.
Above all – staff were not sufficiently experienced in the cancers affecting this age group. With the development of our first Teenage Cancer Trust Unit at the Middlesex Hospital, London, we began to establish the opportunity to train medical personnel and develop expertise.
At that time, we did not dream that our charity would grow to be a worldwide influence in the field of cancer and young people. We had identified a lack in UK cancer services – and we set out to correct that omission.
Since the nineties we have grown – and shown the world how to cater for the vulnerable youth facing the trials of growing up with the dreadful challenges of cancer. Having worked with young people over the years, we were aware of the difficulties of adolescence and adding cancer to that difficult stage in life was overwhelming for patients and their families.
The pioneering work of our initially volunteer run Teenage Cancer Trust put young people on the cancer map. We have established twenty-eight specialist units around the UK and we have inspired other countries to follow in our footsteps, increasing expertise and facilities around the world.
We have faced challenges by those who doubted our aims and faced the uphill task of fundraising to achieve the ambitious goals we set out with. Today’s pandemic threatens to shake the very foundations of Teenage Cancer Trust, and we cannot allow that to happen. We have to maintain our units, nurses, activity co-ordinators and services, and ensure long and healthy lives for our youngsters.
Receiving no government funding, Teenage Cancer Trust relies solely on donations – so our friends are a vital part of the charity. We, literally, could not manage without the help of our supporters.
We have been privileged to work with our brave young people. We have been honoured by their trust and we would like to share that reward with you. Join the Founders Circle today to stand by our side and make a real difference for young people facing cancer.
To find out more about how to join the Founders’ Circle please get in touch with the team by emailing [email protected].
We look forward to hearing from you.
Myrna Whiteson MBE
Adrian Whiteson OBE
We create world class cancer services for young people in the UK, providing life-changing care and support so young people don’t have to face cancer alone.
Every day, seven young people aged 13-24 hear the words “you have cancer”. They will each need specialised nursing care and support to get them through the toughest times they may have faced.
We’re the only UK charity dedicated to meeting this vital need. So you know we’re the real deal, this is our registered charity details: 1062559 (England & Wales), SC039757 (Scotland).