Mphango: the changes I’d like to see this World Cancer Day

This World Cancer Day, we’re talking about change. Because the systems around us don’t recognise the unique needs of children and young people with cancer. So just making sure they have the basics takes time. From the moment of diagnosis, Young Lives vs Cancer Social Workers jump through hoops so that children and young people with cancer get the support they deserve. Support which should be provided straight away. For everyone.

Children and young people with cancer deserve better. This World Cancer Day, we had a chat with Mphango about her own cancer experience and why change needs to happen in 2024…

Mphango was diagnosed with leukaemia at just 24 years old

Hi, I’m Mphango, and I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in November 2022 and went through a year of treatment.

What system or policy changes would have improved your quality of life while going through treatment?

Reflecting on my cancer journey, I’ve come to realise the significant impact age and race can have on diagnosis speed, quality of cancer care, and survival rates. I’m so grateful to be sharing my story today. Here’s what could have made my journey easier:

Better education and research:

I want to see improved education and research around cancer, especially its effects on young people. When diagnosed, we can find ourselves in the dark about what it means for our lives. Access to relevant statistics is limited, which makes it really challenging to navigate.

Targeted research for young people and people of colour:

More targeted research is essential, specifically focusing on young people and people of colour. Tailored insights will mean our unique challenges are acknowledged. And that will mean more accurate information and support throughout our cancer journeys.

Tell us about a policy or system change you hope to see from the Government this year to improve the quality of life for children and young people with cancer and their families. 

This year, I’m hopeful for a vital policy change from the Government that will significantly enhance the quality of life for children and young people with cancer, as well as their families. Here’s what I believe could make a meaningful impact:

Tailored financial support:

I want to see better financial support, designed for families of children and young people with cancer. This support should go beyond medical expenses and include essentials like transportation, accommodation, and crucially, non-medical expenses such as counseling, educational support, high-quality wigs, and accommodating changes in the body.

Streamlined grant application process:

To address these needs, a streamlined application process for grants should be implemented. This grant should be easily accessible for both young people and caregivers. It should also be means-tested so that the support reaches those from low-income families, leaving no one behind.

Impact on quality of life:

Recognising that a cancer diagnosis can profoundly impact a young person’s quality of life, an improved financial support system will lead to better outcomes for children and young people with cancer. What we need is a system that truly supports the holistic well-being of children, young people, and their families facing the challenges of cancer.

Why is campaigning work important? 

Young Lives vs Cancer campaigning work is important for many reasons. It serves as a powerful tool for education, especially for those without firsthand experience in certain matters. By bringing attention to important issues, campaigning work helps inform a wider audience.

Amplifying voices:

Campaigning amplifies the voices of those who, for various reasons, cannot speak for themselves. It provides a platform for individuals facing challenges or injustices, ensuring their concerns are heard and understood.

Driving positive change:

Campaigning work, like the work that Young Lives vs Cancer does, has proven instrumental in bringing about positive changes in the UK. When people join and get behind a campaign, there’s potential to make huge improvements to society.

Increasing awareness, amplifying voices, and contributing to positive change can only improve the outcome and quality of life for young people affected by cancer.

How have you supported Young Lives vs Cancer campaigning work in the past? 

I’ve actively contributed to Young Lives vs Cancer’s campaigning efforts in several ways and it’s been great. I’ve shared my journey and story, and I had the opportunity to visit Parliament. When we were there, we spoke about how the government can enhance financial support for young people facing cancer.

It’s been a privilege to collaborate with Young Lives vs Cancer, advocating for positive change and improved support systems for children and young people. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead and the changes we can make in 2024 by all pulling together.

Author: Susan Akyeampong

Posted on Wednesday 31 January 2024

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