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Fight Club

February 2022

Meet Jeremy.

Your guest editor.

Hi, my name’s Jeremy and I’m 13. I love swimming, acting, reading and looking after my sisters.

In 2020, just before the pandemic, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. When the doctor told me the news I started crying. I felt angry and frightened.

The doctors had to remove my shin bone. At first I thought I was going to lose my whole leg, but they were able to replace my bone with a metal implant, which will grow with me. When I started to learn to walk again I was really scared. I didn’t want to break anything inside my leg, I was very cautious.

My Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker Grace really helped me. She reassured me during treatment and took my mind off the scary things happening around me.

I feel happy and excited now I’ve finished treatment. I want to be a doctor when I grow up and help put smiles on the faces of children and families who are struggling, like I was. My motto is ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel, why let cancer beat me’.

I hope you enjoy reading this magazine that I helped put together. Being guest editor has been a great opportunity to share my story with you and to share the difference you’re making every day to children like me and families like mine. Thank you.

Jeremy with his sisters Georgette and Geraldine

 

My ‘someone’ who was there for me

It was around this time last year that I noticed something wasn’t right. I was having headaches every day, I thought it must be normal but I was so tired.

“You’re not drinking enough” my mum and dad said. What a typical parent thing to say. We knew that something wasn’t right. After seeing various GPs my headaches were still horrendous, so my mum took me to A&E. That’s when they found a hole in my skull, and everything changed.

I had Langerhans cell histiocytosis, they told us. It meant ‘rogue’ cells in my brain had started to eat away at my skull.

“It’s classed as cancer” they told my mum.

It was a huge shock. I was fine until hearing the word ‘cancer’. I couldn’t help thinking about those who are really ill with cancer and go bald. Getting diagnosed and going through treatment was horrible because I lost all my friends. I really struggled. I felt so lonely, stuck in my room distanced from everyone with nobody to talk to.

Then I met Peggy, my Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker. She would just sit and listen. She was my ‘someone’ who was there for me, as a friend. It was nice knowing I had someone there who wasn’t a parent… no offence Mum and Dad.

Because of supporters like you, Peggy was able to be there for Liv and her family too.

“The financial side of cancer can be so crippling.” Said Liv’s mum Claire. “The trips back and forth to hospital, the food, the hotels. It’s a two hour trip each way to hospital for Liv’s treatment.

“When Liv needed an operation or to be in hospital early, we reached out to Peggy and she got us a free place to stay in CLIC Court, the Home from Home in the hospital. It was absolutely fantastic. Because of COVID Liv and I had the home to ourselves and lay on the sofa together.

Peggy and her support have been great. It was a massive help to know we weren’t facing it alone. Thank you so much for supporting families like mine.”

My ‘someone’ who was there for me

It was around this time last year that I noticed something wasn’t right. I was having headaches every day, I thought it must be normal but I was so tired.

“You’re not drinking enough” my mum and dad said. What a typical parent thing to say. We knew that something wasn’t right. After seeing various GPs my headaches were still horrendous, so my mum took me to A&E. That’s when they found a hole in my skull, and everything changed.

I had Langerhans cell histiocytosis, they told us. It meant ‘rogue’ cells in my brain had started to eat away at my skull.

“It’s classed as cancer” they told my mum.

It was a huge shock. I was fine until hearing the word ‘cancer’. I couldn’t help thinking about those who are really ill with cancer and go bald. Getting diagnosed and going through treatment was horrible because I lost all my friends. I really struggled. I felt so lonely, stuck in my room distanced from everyone with nobody to talk to.

Then I met Peggy, my Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker. She would just sit and listen. She was my ‘someone’ who was there for me, as a friend. It was nice knowing I had someone there who wasn’t a parent… no offence Mum and Dad.

Because of supporters like you, Peggy was able to be there for Liv and her family too.

“The financial side of cancer can be so crippling.” Said Liv’s mum Claire. “The trips back and forth to hospital, the food, the hotels. It’s a two hour trip each way to hospital for Liv’s treatment.

“When Liv needed an operation or to be in hospital early, we reached out to Peggy and she got us a free place to stay in CLIC Court, the Home from Home in the hospital. It was absolutely fantastic. Because of COVID Liv and I had the home to ourselves and lay on the sofa together.

Peggy and her support have been great. It was a massive help to know we weren’t facing it alone. Thank you so much for supporting families like mine.”

The pandemic changed everything for children and young people with cancer, for their families, for us and the amazing people like you who fund everything we do across the UK.

It’s an impossible task to summarise in two pages the huge impact you’ve had over the past two years. Our full 2020/21 Impact Report is waiting for you on our website when you have the time and a cuppa to read it, but for now, here are some of the highlights.

The pandemic forced us to step outside of our comfort zone.

Due to the restrictions on face-to-face meetings, we had to re-evaluate how we deliver support – we went digital. Your donations helped us make some incredibly important changes quickly, like online chat, social media and WhatsApp messaging, so that we could be there for children and young people at a time when they needed us more than ever.

You also helped supply laptops to social workers, which meant we could be there for families every step of the way.

Making these changes not only meant we could continue to deliver our services, but by going fully digital we can now support more people than ever before, no matter where they are in the UK. That’s some impact!

Thanks to you, we didn’t just survive 2020/21, we came out of it fighting. There’s no disputing it was the toughest year we’ve ever faced, but your astounding generosity exceeded our expectations and together we were there for families when they needed us most. Here’s to a bigger and better 2022 with you by our side.

In the depths of a global pandemic, you were still there for families. Thanks to you…

6,500 people received our support – that’s about 23,000 people

4,932 financial grants were provided – that’s more than £1million given directly to families

170 families were given a place to stay for 299 nights at our Homes from Home

Our digital developments made a real difference. People you supported during the pandemic told us…

69% felt able to manage their emotional and mental health

63% felt less isolated

67% felt able to manage financial challenges

Click here to read the full report and see the difference you made.

The pandemic changed everything for children and young people with cancer, for their families, for us and the amazing people like you who fund everything we do across the UK.

It’s an impossible task to summarise in two pages the huge impact you’ve had over the past two years. Our full 2020/21 Impact Report is waiting for you on our website when you have the time and a cuppa to read it, but for now, here are some of the highlights.

The pandemic forced us to step outside of our comfort zone.

Due to the restrictions on face-to-face meetings, we had to re-evaluate how we deliver support – we went digital. Your donations helped us make some incredibly important changes quickly, like online chat, social media and WhatsApp messaging, so that we could be there for children and young people at a time when they needed us more than ever.

You also helped supply laptops to social workers, which meant we could be there for families every step of the way.

Making these changes not only meant we could continue to deliver our services, but by going fully digital we can now support more people than ever before, no matter where they are in the UK. That’s some impact!

Thanks to you, we didn’t just survive 2020/21, we came out of it fighting. There’s no disputing it was the toughest year we’ve ever faced, but your astounding generosity exceeded our expectations and together we were there for families when they needed us most. Here’s to a bigger and better 2022 with you by our side.

In the depths of a global pandemic, you were still there for families. Thanks to you…

6,500 people received our support – that’s about 23,000 people

4,932 financial grants were provided – that’s more than £1million given directly to families

170 families were given a place to stay for 299 nights at our Homes from Home

Our digital developments made a real difference. People you supported during the pandemic told us…

69% felt able to manage their emotional and mental health

63% felt less isolated

67% felt able to manage financial challenges

Click here to read the full report and see the difference you made.

Tayen’s story

“I knew something was seriously wrong when my husband Kev found Tayen, our 22-month-old baby, having a seizure in the night. After rushing her to hospital, I was relieved when they offered to do an MRI scan. But I had no idea what was coming.

“Tayen was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes tumours to grow along nerves. She had to start chemotherapy straight away. It felt like the floor had been pulled from under us hearing the news.

“Tayen is now 10 and will need to be on and off chemo for the rest of her life. Treatment has had a massive financial impact. We have never financially recovered, we just keep going. This year we’ve been silently panicking. It’s so draining to be mindful of money when you’re supporting your child through regular treatment. Then there’s the rising cost of living.

“Because of Tayen’s chemotherapy side effects, she really feels the cold, so we always need to have the house well heated. We’ve noticed the increase in our gas and electricity bills. It’s gone up dramatically and we always feel like we’re in arrears.”

Tayen’s story

“I knew something was seriously wrong when my husband Kev found Tayen, our 22-month-old baby, having a seizure in the night. After rushing her to hospital, I was relieved when they offered to do an MRI scan. But I had no idea what was coming.

“Tayen was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes tumours to grow along nerves. She had to start chemotherapy straight away. It felt like the floor had been pulled from under us hearing the news.

“Tayen is now 10 and will need to be on and off chemo for the rest of her life. Treatment has had a massive financial impact. We have never financially recovered, we just keep going. This year we’ve been silently panicking. It’s so draining to be mindful of money when you’re supporting your child through regular treatment. Then there’s the rising cost of living.

“Because of Tayen’s chemotherapy side effects, she really feels the cold, so we always need to have the house well heated. We’ve noticed the increase in our gas and electricity bills. It’s gone up dramatically and we always feel like we’re in arrears.”

Winter Emergency Grant

This year with rising gas, food and petrol prices and cuts to Universal Credit, our social workers are seeing more families like Tayen’s struggling to afford the cost of living. No parent should have to choose between turning the heating on or putting petrol in the car to get to a hospital appointment.

So we’ve launched a new Winter Emergency Grant to help Tayen and the many families like hers. This grant wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of people like you. To help support more families this winter, please click here to make a donation.

Winter Emergency Grant

This year with rising gas, food and petrol prices and cuts to Universal Credit, our social workers are seeing more families like Tayen’s struggling to afford the cost of living. No parent should have to choose between turning the heating on or putting petrol in the car to get to a hospital appointment.

So we’ve launched a new Winter Emergency Grant to help Tayen and the many families like hers. This grant wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of people like you. To help support more families this winter, please click here to make a donation.

For Jake: My marathon story

Last year I joined thousands of incredible supporters to run the London Marathon for Young Lives vs Cancer. I ran in memory of my younger brother, Jake. Jake was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2016, an aggressive cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord. He passed away just 10 months later. He was 16 years old.

Through the generosity of supporters like you, Young Lives vs Cancer was able to offer us free accommodation in Paul’s House, their Home from Home in London near the hospital where Jake was having treatment. It was a godsend – not only could the whole family use it to stay the night but it was a much more comfortable place than hospital for Jake’s friends to visit him, too.

Our Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker, Urvashi made a big impact straight away, possibly due to the fact that she came bearing a bag of goodies! But it was also the practical help, from explaining options available to Jake and us as a family and helping us to complete really complicated forms for benefits and grants, to being there whenever we needed her. Knowing that there was somebody who we could turn to, to ask the small, seemingly silly questions was a huge relief.

Even though I knew the marathon would be hard, it would be nowhere near as hard as everything Jake went through. To be able to run in Jake’s memory meant everything to me. I’m gutted that he wasn’t there to watch me cross the finish line. If I could tell him that I’m a marathon runner he wouldn’t believe me, he would laugh, but I think he would be proud of me.

I had a couple of tough miles toward the end and I had to dig deep, but I knew what I was running for and who I was running for. Running the London Marathon was honestly one of the greatest days of my life.

Interested in taking on the London Marathon for Young Lives vs Cancer next year? Whether you have your own place or are looking for a charity place, email londonmarathon@younglivesvscancer.org.ukor call 0300 330 0803 to speak to the team.

 

For Jake: My marathon story

Last year I joined thousands of incredible supporters to run the London Marathon for Young Lives vs Cancer. I ran in memory of my younger brother, Jake. Jake was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2016, an aggressive cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord. He passed away just 10 months later. He was 16 years old.

Through the generosity of supporters like you, Young Lives vs Cancer was able to offer us free accommodation in Paul’s House, their Home from Home in London near the hospital where Jake was having treatment. It was a godsend – not only could the whole family use it to stay the night but it was a much more comfortable place than hospital for Jake’s friends to visit him, too.

Our Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker, Urvashi made a big impact straight away, possibly due to the fact that she came bearing a bag of goodies! But it was also the practical help, from explaining options available to Jake and us as a family and helping us to complete really complicated forms for benefits and grants, to being there whenever we needed her. Knowing that there was somebody who we could turn to, to ask the small, seemingly silly questions was a huge relief.

Even though I knew the marathon would be hard, it would be nowhere near as hard as everything Jake went through. To be able to run in Jake’s memory meant everything to me. I’m gutted that he wasn’t there to watch me cross the finish line. If I could tell him that I’m a marathon runner he wouldn’t believe me, he would laugh, but I think he would be proud of me.

I had a couple of tough miles toward the end and I had to dig deep, but I knew what I was running for and who I was running for. Running the London Marathon was honestly one of the greatest days of my life.

Interested in taking on the London Marathon for Young Lives vs Cancer next year? Whether you have your own place or are looking for a charity place, email londonmarathon@younglivesvscancer.org.ukor call 0300 330 0803 to speak to the team.

 

With your help, we know we can do our families proud.

There’s so many ways to get involved with Young Lives vs Cancer – from events and volunteering to challenges galore. Click here for more info.

The pandemic hit us hard and we’re still building back from the damage. With your help, we know we can be there to help families face whatever cancer throws at them.

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