Teenage cancer unit turns two

Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Addenbrookes, celebrates it's second birthday. The X Factor TV presenter and charity ambassador, Caroline Flack, is pictured visiting current and former patients and donors to cut the second birthday cake and officially start a superhero themed party. Picture: Keith Heppell ANL-140703-111646001
Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Addenbrookes, celebrates it's second birthday. The X Factor TV presenter and charity ambassador, Caroline Flack, is pictured visiting current and former patients and donors to cut the second birthday cake and officially start a superhero themed party. Picture: Keith Heppell ANL-140703-111646001
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A specialist state-of-the-art Teenage Cancer Trust unit held a unique birthday party to mark two years of supporting young people with cancer from East Anglia.

The X Factor TV presenter and charity ambassador, Caroline Flack, joined current and former patients and donors at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, to cut the second year birthday cake and officially start the superhero themed party.

Since the £3.6million unit on Ward C9 opened in February 2012, over 130 young people aged 14 to 24 from Hertfordshire, Essex, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Northamptonshire, have received treatment.

Lily Anderson (16), from Newmarket, Suffolk, was 14 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and spent a few months on the Teenage Cancer Trust C9 ward last year.

Lily said: “Before I got transferred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit I felt angry and alone but as soon as I arrived on the unit that changed. I met lots of people my age and they all knew what I was going through and tried to help in whatever way they could. There was always something to do to pass the time, like play computer games and pool, watch films, go on the internet and do arts and crafts organised by the youth support coordinator.”

The 11 bed unit has not only supported young people through gruelling treatment but has also seen a wedding on the ward and enabled patients to keep up with their studies by taking their GCSE, AS and A2 exams. There’s also been numerous opportunities for young people to meet and socialise together on and off the unit through activities organised by the charity funded Youth Support Coordinator.

Unlike an ordinary hospital ward, the Teenage Cancer Trust unit has been designed to bring young people together to be treated by teenage cancer experts in a place designed just for them. The bright and vibrant home-from-home unit features a social zone where young people can hang out and watch Sky TV, play music on the jukebox, play pool and use the latest games consoles. There is also a family room, chill-out pod, quiet room and learning hub.

Dr Helen Hatcher, teenage and young adult consultant oncologist at Cambridge University Hospitals, said: “For me it has been a privilege to be part of the transformation that the Ward C9 Teenage Cancer Trust unit has made to the care of young people and their families.

“Not only has the atmosphere on the ward itself and its decoration meant that patients feel more relaxed and able to cope with their treatments better but also that it acts as a focal point for those who choose to work with young people to excel in patient care. The difference in having a whole ward where the staff have chosen to work with and have been specifically trained in the needs of young people has made a dramatic difference to the experience of patients and families who have been cared for on the ward.

“The second anniversary also makes me remember the very many young people and their families who contributed their time, effort and energy over many years to raise the money to help the ward become a reality.”

Teenage Cancer Trust is now calling on the local community to continue fundraising and supporting the work of the unit and the teenage and young adult cancer service.

Laura Woodcock, Teenage Cancer Trust Regional Fundraising Manager for East Anglia said: “In two years our unit has achieved so much, helping to support young people through the toughest times of their lives. There is, however, still much more for us to do.

“We rely solely on donations to maintain the unit, fund our specialist staff and support the work of our free cancer awareness sessions in schools, colleges and universities across East Anglia. That’s why we need the local community to continue supporting us, so we can help many more young people with cancer.”

To lend your support email fundraising@teenagecancertrust.org or call 0207-6120370. For further information visit www.teenagecancertrust.org