“It is brilliant to have someone to talk to,” says local young cancer patient

Each year, around 20 teenagers and young adults are treated at the Derriford Hospital, Plymouth following a cancer diagnosis.  Teenage Cancer Trust, the UK charity dedicated to supporting these young people provides a locally based service ensuring every patient can access age-appropriate care and support.

Teenage Cancer Trust has completed a roll out of its innovative Nursing and Support Programme across the South West, in partnership with the NHS, to reach every young person diagnosed with cancer in the region. This new service places more Teenage Cancer Trust nurses in local hospitals, including Derriford Hospital, ensuring that no young person has to face cancer alone.

“Teenagers and young people with cancer need to be able to access specialist emotional support and care at the point of diagnosis, during and after treatment,” said Brendan McIntyre, Teenage Cancer Trust Regional Services Manager. “We want to ensure that all young people in and around Plymouth have the choice of having this support and care available closer to home.”

Teenage Cancer Trust estimates that is costs approximately £1,000 a day to maintain the specialist nursing and support service for local young people, as well as to continue to deliver existing services. To help maintain these services, the charity is launching a fundraising appeal to ensure every young person diagnosed with cancer is supported, like Adam Matthews.

Twenty-two-year-old Adam had gone into hospital for a chest infection when he ended up being diagnosed with testicular cancer. When the scans revealed an abnormality, the severity of his diagnosis meant he had to start chemotherapy immediately and he was accommodated on the adult ward at his local hospital in Plymouth.

“Because I was only 22, I was surrounded by people quite a bit older. I didn’t have my own space and I found it really noisy,” Adam, from Cornwall, said. “Physically my body could tolerate most of the chemo but mentally it was a struggle. The boredom from having to stay in hospital and having no sense of control was hard. I was there for about three months and felt very isolated.”

During his treatment, Adam was supported by the Teenage Cancer Trust specialist nursing team at Derriford Hospital where Teenage & Young Adult Specialist Nurse Kerry McKay provided tailored care and ongoing emotional and psychological support to both Adam and his family throughout his treatment.

“I strongly believe that every young person needs dedicated support, to help them through their journey with cancer,” said Adam. “The regular contact from my Teenage Cancer Trust nurse was really helpful. It is brilliant to have someone to talk to, if I or my family needed some extra support or information.”

Young people with cancer in the Plymouth area have the choice to be treated at the only Principle Treatment Centre in the South West, the Haematology and Oncology Centre in Bristol, where there is a Teenage Cancer Trust Unit for 16 – 25 year olds. 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 them at an already difficult time.

The roll out of Teenage Cancer Trust’s innovate Nursing and Support Programme means young people facing a cancer diagnosis who are not treated on the unit in Bristol can still receive the specialist care and support they need, while being treated closer to home and their friends and family.

Teenage Cancer Trust relies on donations to support its work with young cancer patients and it costs an average of £1,000 a day to fund the services offered across the South West. To help maintain these important services the charity is launching 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.

To support these vital services and sign up to the Teenage Cancer Trust ‘Grand Slam Challenge’ you can register your fundraising at https://www.teenagecancertrust.org/register-your-fundraising or for more information on the challenge visit www.teenagecancertrust.org/could-you-be-grand-slam-hero-young-people-cancer. For more information contact hello@teenagecancertrust.org or visit www.teenagecancertrust.org