Earlier this week, Sarah, Duchess of York, opened a new Teenage Cancer Trust unit for young people with cancer from the South of England and the Channel Islands, at Southampton General Hospital.

Each year, around 100 young people are diagnosed with cancer across Hampshire, Dorset, the Channel Islands, South Wiltshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex. Across the UK, around seven are diagnosed every day. Traditionally treated either on a children’s ward or on an adult ward often alongside elderly patients, young people can feel extremely isolated during treatment, some never meeting another young person with cancer. Being treated alongside others their own age by experts in teenage and young adult cancer care, can make a huge difference to a young person’s experience.

Taking eight months to build and costing the charity £2.4million, this new state-of-the-art ten bed specialist facility now offers 16 to 24 year olds a place to receive treatment where they can feel a bit more at home. The unit offers patients the best possible care, support and access to treatment via a team of specialist doctors, nurses and support staff, who are all experts in teenage and young adult cancer care. The additional support patients will now be able to receive from each other is another invaluable part of this service.

Sarah, Duchess of York is a long term patron of Teenage Cancer Trust. Sarah, Duchess of York said: “I’ve been a Teenage Cancer Trust patron for over 20 years and I’ve seen it grow and lead the way in the treatment of teenage and young adult cancer. Christmas is a poignant time to be opening this unit as it reminds us that many families will be celebrating Christmas whilst bravely battling cancer in some way. This new unit will help so many young people and their families and friends face the toughest time together.”

The new unit features six inpatient en-suite bedrooms with sofa beds for family and friends to stay overnight, as well as four day care beds. It has a large social room where young people can play pool, listen to music, play games consoles or watch films on the latest Smart TVs. There’s also a kitchen where meals can be cooked at all times of day and night, as well as a lounge for family members to take a break.

A group of young cancer patients worked very closely with the hospital architect to create some very unique unit features. These include an electronic fireplace in the bedrooms which can be changed to various scenes such as a roaring fire, a waterfall or a fish tank and photo collages along the corridors of local things they love like Bestival and Southampton Football Club. Even a piece of fake grass from the unit’s turf cutting ceremony which marked the start of construction has been incorporated.

Siobhan Dunn, Chief Executive of Teenage Cancer Trust said: “We’ve always wanted to build a unit at Southampton General Hospital and this amazing facility has some really unique features. That’s partly thanks to the design input we have had from the patients but also thanks to the generosity of local communities who’ve worked so hard with us over four years to raise the money. This unit will help so many young people with cancer and their families feel less alone at an incredibly difficult time of their lives.”

Teenage Cancer Trust is now appealing to local communities to continue supporting the new unit. The charity relies on donations to fund all of its vital work and just over £1,000 a day now needs to be raised to maintain the unit, fund specialist staff and support the free cancer awareness sessions that are delivered in schools, colleges and universities across the South.

To lend your support email beth.bartlam@teenagecancertrust.org or call 07943 923549. For more information visit www.teenagecancertrust.org.

Source: Teenage Cancer Trust

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