Teenage Cancer Trust is a cancer support and care charity that operates in the UK. Its main purpose is to improve the experience younger people between the ages of 13 to 24 have living with cancer. The organisation provides special units for teenagers in NHS hospitals up and down the country.
It’s unfortunate, but true, that before the first Teenage Cancer Trust unit opened in 1990, there was nothing in the way of specialise care for young people suffering from the disease offered by the NHS. The organisation was formed and grew thanks to the passion and dedication of a small group of women, including the founder and life president Myrna Whiteson MBE. She was one of the original groups who fundraised for a specialist intensive care heart unit for children in Guy’s Hospital, the main act that kickstarted the founding of the charity in the first place.
They had met a mother who had a 13-year old son with cancer, being treated in a children’s ward and along with much older people in a specialist adult oncology ward. So, as well as dealing with cancer and cancer treatment, the boy was isolated from young people just like him experiencing the same thing.
The organisation then set out to establish environments designed with teenagers in mind, and it raised the impressive £330,000 it needed to fund this unit. It was on 22 November, 1990 that the first unit was opened. This unit was located in Middlesex Hospital in London and even had an official opening by Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. The group thought their work had been completed.
However, it wasn’t and the organisation has continued to grow and become one of the leaders in young cancer care, with its model being admired and copied throughout the world. It has helped completely change the lives of 1,000s of young cancer sufferers through specialist support and care.
What They Do
In addition to the extensive network of support and care services the organisation provides in hospital units and via homes and hospitals in the country, its work now includes:
- A National Education Programme that helps to raise better awareness of cancer and to give power to young people to have more responsibility over their health
- The annual conference Find Your Sense of Tumour, for young people who suffer from cancer
- The International Conference on Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Medicine for young adult and teenage cancer specialists
- Funding programme into research and more education for health professionals.
Music and Teenage Cancer Trust
Obviously, music is a huge part of any young person’s life, but at Teenage Cancer Trust it’s at the heart of all they do. One of the most notable things about the organisation is their Royal Albert Hall concerts. These events were the brainchild of the Teenage Cancer Trust’s patron Roger Daltrey CBE, the frontman for rock band The Who, who also curated them. So important are these events that they have actually transcended just being charity events into the most popular concerts in the musical calendar. Over the years, huge performers from the world of music and comedy that have played at the events include:
- Jason Manford
- Russell Brand
- Russel Howard
- Ed Sheeran
- Romesh Ranganathan
- Pet Shop Boys
- New Order
- John Bishop
- Florence + the Machine
- Jessie J
- The Cure
- Paul McCartney
- The Who
In fact, in 2018, they had the 18th show of its kind. Amazingly, over the years, the concerts alone have helped to raise an incredible £27m.
The Organisation’s Impact
While there are seven young people diagnosed with the disease every day in the country, they are still the only charity fully dedicated to providing the specialist support and nursing care young cancer sufferers need. The organisation’s impact includes providing the following:
- 28 World-Class Specialist Units – In 28 hospitals up and down the country, that provide young people a home away from their own, while they receive the important treatment they really need.
- 48 Nurses and Youth Support Co-ordinators – They also fund youth support co-ordinators and nurses with specialist training to provide support for the young people staying in their facilities. They have special training to help them fully understand what life is like with cancer when you are young and provide help and support to stop them feeling isolated
- Reaching 118,000 Young People – Through their face-to-face presentations in schools throughout the country, the charity’s Education Team has travelled to talk to young people about understanding and being able to spot early signs of the disease, while eliminating the stigmas surrounding cancer that stop people from speaking about it.
- Nursing and Support Pilot – This Nursing and Support Service provides support to young people with a cancer diagnosis, regardless of where they are situated. The pilot scheme involved a team of seven young adult and teenage cancer specialists working alongside NHS teams in South Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester. It helped the charity successfully reach 100% of the people suffering from cancer in those areas.
- 185 Hair 4U Wigs – As hair loss is a big shock for young people in particular suffering from cancer and undergoing treatment, the organisation worked with Charlie Miller, a renowned and award-winning hairdresser, some of the country’s best salons to provide each young cancer sufferer with the option to have a wig made from real hair.