Monday 9th July 2018

South West

Young people with cancer in Somerset have the choice to be treated at our South West units in Bristol. However, long travelling distances to and from a Principle Treatment Centre may prevent friends and family visiting, which can have an emotional and physical impacts on teenagers and young adults with cancer at an already difficult time. 

The roll out of our innovative Nursing and Support Programme places more specialist Teenage Cancer Trust nurses in local South West hospitals, including Musgrove Park Hospital. This will ensure that no young person, like young mum Laura, has to face cancer alone.  

Twenty-three year old Laura Taylor went to her local surgery after finding an unusual lump under her tongue. She was told it was a mouth infection and given antibiotics. However, when there was no change to the growth after almost a month, Laura felt that something wasn’t right. She was sent for a biopsy, where she was later diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma in her tongue.

“I had no words. I was sat there looking at the consultant speaking to me but in my head, all I kept thinking was ‘What about my son?’” said Laura from Somerset. “There was so much information to take in, I felt so suffocated by it all."

I was only 23. I should be hearing about my son’s day at nursery, not cancer.

After she was diagnosed, Laura was introduced to Nicola Neale, the Teenage Cancer Trust Specialist Nurse at Musgrove Park Hospital. As well as providing specialist nursing care, our nurses are there to support and help young people deal with having cancer.

This woman isn’t just a nurse; it feels like she’s a ‘friend'.

“She has helped me through some tough times and pretty lonely times and she is still supporting my family and I. I frequently get emails from Nic to ask how I am doing. She went out of her way to help me get back into work and move on with my life; she even applied for my family and I to go away for a paid holiday with the Willow Foundation, a holiday I’ll always remember and treasure.”

When Laura had her operation at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Nicola referred her to the Teenage Cancer Trust Specialist Nurse Lorraine Beddard for support. Lorraine accompanied Laura to all her appointments, supporting her and her family with their questions and reassuring them throughout the procedures.

“I would like to thank Graham Merrick and Andrew McCann because these consultants are so important to me and I owe them my life – literally! – and also to the Head and Neck nurses, Jo and Lisa. I will never be able to thank Nic, Lorraine and Teenage Cancer Trust for everything they have done. Teenage Cancer Trust don’t just stop helping you when you get the ‘all-clear’. They are there for you and this is something that is so important for us a young person with cancer. They help you through not only the bad days but the good ones."

They’re not just nurses, they are like ‘friends’ and everyone needs a friend.

It costs approximately £1,000 a day to maintain our specialist nursing and support service for local young people, as well as to continue to deliver existing services. We have launched a fundraising appeal called the ‘Grand Slam Challenge’, inviting local communities to raise £1,000 and fund a day’s worth of vital support needed by young cancer patients.

Help us be there for every young person with cancer.