Young cancer patients must not be the forgotten generation

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04 June 2020

Young cancer patients must not be the forgotten generation

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic we have been focussed on our mission to ensure we continue to support 13 to 24 year olds fighting cancer to live their best lives.  In response to the restrictions imposed in March, we transformed all of our activities to accessible digital sessions. As a result, rather than scaling down our support we are in fact more connected with our Teens than ever before. But the Charity is set to lose more than £700k due to the impact on our fundraising and the help we can offer to young cancer patients faces an uncertain future if vital funding cannot be found.

Every day 1 in 7 teenagers hear the devastating words “you have cancer”. Of the thousands of young people, living with and beyond cancer, 79% will experience a serious impact on their mental health. Due to the coronavirus young cancer patients have also had to endure weeks of strict isolation, unable to be in close contact with other household family members as they followed the shielding protocols set out by the government to keep them safe.

As the restrictions change and lockdown is eased, we mustn’t forget the toll these long weeks of worry have had on young people with cancer. For most normal teenagers the biggest problem has been boredom and missing their friends. Those living with cancer are also copying with the anxieties brought about by having to visit hospital for lifesaving treatment during a global pandemic.

Over the past two months Teens Unite has increased its support programme from 3 face to face activities per month to 4 digital sessions per week. Thanks to the ability to create virtual sessions over platforms like Zoom, the Charity has been able to offer more support and activities as soon as lockdown was announced, ensuring that support was even more accessible than before.

The  young people we have spoken to have all said that they now feel more connected and that the sessions boost their mood, lessen anxieties, reduce their fears and give them a sense of purpose for their day. Many more have been able to access the new digital support who were previously unable to travel to the events, with some even logging in from their hospital beds.

Simona, who was diagnosed last November with Hodgkin's lymphoma and is still going through treatment, connected with the Charity at the beginning of March. She says that the sessions have given her a motivation that she’s never felt before.

“We are all in this together. There are so many young adults going through cancer but meeting them has shown me that at the end of the day you are not your diagnosis. I‘m even fundraising too, as I want to make sure that no young person has to face this alone.”

In this new normal the digital world is playing an increasingly vital role in day to day life, but for young cancer patients it is proving an accessible and innovative way to provide a lifeline to so many who are facing their fight with cancer in isolation.

Teens Unite has experienced a 66% rise in registrations, a clear signal that support for young cancer patients is desperately needed now more than ever before. With 2,555 new cases of cancer in teenagers and young adults in the UK each year, support of any kind is a lifeline.

But the charity sector is struggling with a significant funding crisis. Teens Unite is facing a 70% loss of income due to cancelled fundraising events and activities. With more than 1,000 young people registered for our support service, the Charity is set to lose more than £700k this year which could put services under threat. Funding needs to be found to ensure young cancer patients are not the forgotten generation during the coronavirus.

Please donate today to support young people fighting cancer, now and in the the future. Thank you.

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