World-class cancer unit is real home from home

The launch of the teenage cancer unit at Sheffield's Hallamshire Hospital. From left, Nick  Morley, Simon Fuller, Chris Chambers, Kevan Smith and Yvonne Goddard
The launch of the teenage cancer unit at Sheffield's Hallamshire Hospital. From left, Nick Morley, Simon Fuller, Chris Chambers, Kevan Smith and Yvonne Goddard
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A NEW ‘world-class’ unit for teenage cancer patients has been launched at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

The facility aims to be a home from home for young people with blood cancers, even offering a vibrant social area with access to media facilities.

It was part of an existing ward transformed in an £82,000 revamp and launched by the Teenage Cancer Trust charity.

Simon Fuller, trust director of services, said: “In an extreme case you might have a 16-year-old rugby player on a children’s ward next to four-year-olds or in an adult ward with people aged 90.

“Young people in that situation can get very isolated, they disengage with treatment and, as a result, outcomes can be poor.

“The overriding factor for us is that young people come first and cancer second.

“This unit is built not just for treatment needs but also the psychological and social needs of young people – that’s why it is world-class.”

The unit has four bedrooms individually styled with TVs, storage units and noticeboards for patients aged 16 to 24 to personalise.

Just steps away is a social area where they can watch films, play games and control mood lighting.

Tireless fundraising by the trust and Sheffield law firm Nabarro which has raised more than £55,000 since 2008, paid for the unit.

Specialist nursing staff and youth support co-ordinators are shared with a similar trust facility at Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital.

Jan Siddall, trust nurse lead, said: “Having a bit more of a home from home is important to young people here because they may have to stay for a long time. This does make a difference.”

PETER’S STORY

“I ALWAYS say the Teenage Cancer Trust saved my life,” says Peter Wilkinson.

He believes moving from an adult to a specialist teenage ward made a massive difference after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and given a terminal prognosis.

The 25-year-old, from Barnsley, was treated at Weston Park’s teenage unit from 2007 to 2008.

He said: “Because the ward is a home from home you feel comfortable, you can be yourself. At the time my girlfriend, now my wife, was able to stay over which was really important.

“Coming from a ward where I was alone with old people to one which was bright and I could order takeaways if I wanted to was great.”

Peter has been tumour-free for over three years.