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Royals and Harry Judd open Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital

17 December 2012
East Anglia’s only specialist Teenage Cancer Trust unit for young patients officially opened.

East Anglia’s only specialist Teenage Cancer Trust unit for young patients which offers world-class treatment, was officially opened today by the charity’s patron Sarah, Duchess of York, Princess Eugenie of York and charity ambassador, Harry Judd, from pop band McFly.

The state-of-the-art Teenage Cancer Trust unit on ward C9 of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, one of the UK’s leading centres for cancer treatment, supports 14-to-24-year-old cancer patients from Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.  

The home-from-home unit provides a relaxed environment designed specifically for and by young people and has a social zone, parents’ room, chill-out room and learning centre. Staff are specially trained in cancers of this age group and have chosen to work with this age group.

Since the first patient was admitted at the end of February 2012, staff have treated over 60 patients on the 11-bed unit which cost £3.6 million to build, most of which was provided by fundraising within East Anglia.

Every day in the UK, six young people are told they have cancer and approximately 200 patients are diagnosed in East Anglia each year. Usually placed on a children’s ward or on an adult ward alongside elderly patients, young people can often feel extremely isolated when facing a cancer diagnosis. Teenage Cancer Trust units are designed to be as close as possible to a young person’s normal life outside hospital.

Simon Davies, Chief Executive of Teenage Cancer Trust comments: “Today is a momentous day for the charity. Not only is this our 25th Teenage Cancer Trust unit but it is also the first in East Anglia and we are thrilled to have worked with Addenbrooke’s whose staff provide specialist care. We rely solely on public donations and this unit wouldn’t have been built if it hadn’t been for incredible, tireless support from local communities, businesses, patients and their families and friends over the past few years, helping us raise £2.9million.”

Teenage Cancer Trust patron, Sarah, Duchess of York said: “I have been a patron of Teenage Cancer Trust for over twenty years and I’m always so excited to visit a new unit as every one is special and unique. This impressive unit showcases Teenage Cancer Trust’s design expertise at its absolute best and will give young cancer patients from across East Anglia a real fighting chance thanks to specialist cancer care at Addenbrooke’s.”

Dr Helen Hatcher, consultant oncologist at Cambridge University Hospitals, said: “We are very happy to be celebrating the opening of the Teenage Cancer Trust unit today. It has been fantastic to see the benefits the new ward brings to young people and their families across the region. Having somewhere where young people can feel more relaxed in their environment when going through stressful and debilitating treatment has made an enormous difference to them and their families.”

Alistair Wheeler with the royalsAlistair Wheeler, 23 from Ipswich, has just been admitted to the ward. He said: “It’s great to know that I am in incredibly safe hands. It’s nice knowing that other people of the same age are here and the social zone is absolutely fantastic. The fact that this has been funded by the NHS and charities is brilliant.” His father Tony added: ”I couldn’t conceive of anywhere more comfortable. It’s absolutely stunning.”

Frazer Jennings, 24 from Buckinghamshire, was also a patient on the unit and has just finished his radiotherapy treatment. He said: “My experience of cancer treatment has been as positive as possible. Frazer, who is hoping to be a vet now he has finished his degree at the University of Cambridge, added: “It has made a tremendous difference to me and I want to thank all the staff involved.”

In addition to CUH staff providing clinical care on the unit, Teenage Cancer Trust also fund the youth support coordinator role which provides individually tailored support, making a young person’s time in hospital more tolerable by supervising and coordinating activities on and off the ward and encouraging patients to socialise and remain active and connected with other young people.

Developing the unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital is the first step in Teenage Cancer Trust’s commitment to helping young people with cancer across East Anglia. On-going support and donations are now needed to maintain the unit, fund specialist staff and support the work of the charity’s free cancer awareness sessions in schools, colleges and universities across the region.

The new unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital now brings the number of Teenage Cancer Trust units across the UK to 25. This new unit also complements the existing drop-in centre Teenage Cancer Trust opened at Abington House at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in 2009. The Oasis offers support and advice to young patients and their families, as well as social and recreational facilities.