Tuesday 24th October 2017

Scotland

"I'm very proud that real people have seen our fundraising work and have felt strongly enough to recommend me to receive an MBE. I am also delighted to receive the award in view of the progress we have made in getting the Teenage Cancer Trust units established in Scotland.

But none of this would have come about if we hadn't lost Andrew to cancer. I would give anything and everything I could for none of this ever to have happened.

In August 2002, my son Andrew was just 14 years old when he was told: "You've got cancer."

That was when Andrew and the family first found out what a raw deal teenagers and young adults with cancer get.

It was an aggressive malignant tumour in his spinal column and Andrew needed constant hospital care, and we were given the devastating news that there was no hope of a cure.

In 2002, there wasn't a lot of options in the west of Scotland. There's the Children's Hospital in Glasgow, which provides wonderful special care and treatment for babies, toddlers and young children, but it is not specially equipped for teenagers. They had no room for Andrew – literally – as he was 6 feet tall, and too big to fit in their beds.

The alternative was a bed in an open adult cancer ward in an ageing Victorian era hospital. He had to spend a few days there, where he was surrounded by what to a teenager looked like grey old men all in the last throes of dying from cancer. No place for a 14-year-old.

Eventually an adult-size bed was brought over to the children's Hospital, and Andrew was found a cubicle in an overspill ward on the top floor of the hospital.

Andrew hated being there, so as soon as his radiography sessions were completed, his mother decided that we were taking Andrew home. She managed to persuade the medical staff - and me - that we could care for him just as well at home. So the medical people organised a hospital bed and equipment, and with the cooperation of our district nurses and GP, Andrew came home in time for his 15th birthday and Christmas.

We managed to get his care sorted ok, and after a few days a few of his best pals came round to visit.

They were apprehensive at first but soon it became just like any other visit to your pal's and they would forget he was in a hospital bed, and would watch TV; play their computer games and chat – and laugh.

We didn’t know it at the time of course, but what we had done in our home back in 2002 was to create the first Teenage Cancer Trust Unit in Scotland – just for Andrew.

Andrew was so much happier at home, and whenever the hospital staff came to visit they were amazed at how well he was doing, and how well he looked. Andrew was at home with us for nearly a year before he passed away, just before his 16th birthday.

Since Andrew's death in 2003, my family has been fundraising in his memory to ensure other teenagers with cancer in the UK get a better deal and have better choices.

Originally, we thought about starting 'The Andrew Delaney Trust', but then we heard about 'Teenage Cancer Trust' and we found that they were already doing in England exactly what we wanted and needed in Scotland. The charity raises all the money and then builds units within NHS Hospitals to provide specialist care for teenagers and young adults with cancer.

Teenage Cancer Trust units are very special places. As well as being a 'cool place' and having all the latest gadgets and TVs and PCs and pool tables, the medical facilities are second to none and the staff are all specialists, trained to understand and help with the specific issues teenagers can face. 

Now Teenage Cancer Trust is expanding their support throughout Scotland, just this year launching their new Nursing and Support Outreach service. They are hiring new nurses to reach and support young people with cancer who don’t have immediate access to their units in the main units in Glasgow and Edinburgh."

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