A pioneering unit aimed at easing trauma for young cancer patients has taken a bow - thanks largely to a Huddersfield-based charity.
The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust came up with much of the £60,000 needed to fund a special space in the radiotherapy department at St James Hospital in Leeds.
The tiny charity was hailed as ‘an oasis in the desert of fund-raising’ at the official opening yesterday.
And it means teenagers waiting for treatment now have their own specially-furnished and equipped ‘Chillout Space’ where they can be with others of a similar age.
Up to now, teenagers could find themselves waiting with very young children or adults.
“This could have a detrimental effect on the well-being of the patients,” said Pam Thornes, of the LCYCT. “Now they can sit with peer groups.”
The bravery of young cancer victims themselves prompted the Trust to get involved.
“They flagged up this issue, willing to work for the benefit of others coming to the hospital after them,” said Mrs Thornes. “That’s a mark of their strength.”
The ‘chillout space’ is the first of its kind in the country - a situation described as ‘appalling’ by ITV news presenter Nina Hossain, of Huddersfield, who performed the opening ceremony.
“If you think about teenagers in general, then about them being landed with a cancer diagnosis, the fact that units such as this don’t exist across the country is appalling,” said Ms Hossain, who is from Huddersfield and whose own family has been touched by cancer. “It’s not what you need.
“This has been fantastic work by a very small charity, to create something most people would consider essential.
“It is crazy something like this has not been here all along.”
Clinical nurse specialist Claire Jobe said: “The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust has helped us achieve a dream we have had for a very long time.
“We know that a better environment helps young patients cope better pyschologically. Being diagnosed with cancer can be isolating. Options are taken away. A space such as this will encourage friendship and support and it will make a real difference.”
The LCYCT’s chairman of trustees Rob Hoult said: “To be able to come and see this amazing facility is a terrific privilege - especially considering the youngsters going through a tough time yet willing to stand for those who will be in need in future.”
Julie Owens, department manager when the campaign began, said: “This has been a long journey, but we got there. I can’t thank the Trust enough - they were an oasis in a desert of fund-raising.