Twenty-three year old Laura Taylor went to her local surgery after finding an unusual lump under her tongue. She was told it was a ‘mouth infection’ and given antibiotics however, after almost a month and no change to the growth, she felt that something wasn’t right. She was sent for a biopsy, where she was later diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma cancer in her tongue.
“I had no words. I was sat there looking at the consultant speaking to me but in my head, all I kept thinking was ‘What about my son?’” said Laura from Somerset. “There was so much information to take in, I felt so suffocated by it all. I was only 23. I should be hearing about my son’s day at nursery, not cancer.”
Each year, almost 10 teenagers and young adults are treated at Musgrove Park Hospital following a cancer diagnosis. Teenage Cancer Trust, the UK charity dedicated to supporting these young people provides a locally based service ensuring every patient can access age-appropriate care and support.
Last year the charity completed a roll out of its innovative Nursing and Support Programme across the South West, in partnership with the NHS, to reach every young person diagnosed with cancer in the region. This new service places more Teenage Cancer Trust nurses in local hospitals, including Musgrove Park Hospital, ensuring that no young person has to face cancer alone.
“Teenagers and young people with cancer need to be able to access specialist emotional support and care at the point of diagnosis, during and after treatment,” said Brendan McIntyre, Teenage Cancer Trust Regional Services Manager. “We want to ensure that all young people in and around Taunton have the choice of having this support and care available closer to home.”
After she was diagnosed, Laura was introduced to Nicola Neale, the Teenage Cancer Trust Specialist Nurse at Musgrove Park Hospital. As well as giving nursing care, Teenage Cancer Trust nurses are there to support and help young people deal with having cancer.
“This woman isn’t just a nurse,” said Laura. “She has helped me through some tough times and pretty lonely times and she is still supporting my family and I. I frequently get emails from Nic to ask how I am doing. She went out of her way to help me get back into work and move on with my life; she even applied for my family and I to go away for a paid holiday with the Willow Trust, a holiday I’ll always remember and treasure.”
When Laura had her operation at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Nicola referred her to another Teenage Cancer Trust Specialist Nurse Lorraine Beddard for support. Lorraine accompanied Laura to all her appointments, supporting her and her family with their questions and reassuring them throughout the procedures.
“I would like to thank Graham Merrick and Andrew McCann because these consultants are so important to me and I owe them my life – literally! – and also to the Head and Neck nurses, Jo and Lisa. I will never be able to thank Nic, Lorraine and Teenage Cancer Trust for everything they have done. Teenage Cancer Trust don’t just stop helping you when you get the ‘all-clear’. They are there for you and this is something that is so important for us a young person with cancer. They help you through not only the bad days but the good ones.”
Teenage Cancer Trust estimates that is costs approximately £1,000 a day to maintain the specialist nursing and support service for local young people, as well as to continue to deliver existing services. To help maintain these services, the charity calling on the support of its communities to raise awareness and funds on Monday February 4th, World Cancer Day, and ensure every young person diagnosed with cancer like Laura is supported.
To support these vital services you can register your fundraising at www.teenagecancertrust.org/register-your-fundraising and receive your free fundraising pack.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teenagecancertrust.org
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